Sexual Violence Against Women in Turkey
Many women in Turkey who are the victims and survivors of sexually assualtted incidents face negative reactions from the society. Turkey is one of the developed countries where speaking about sexual violence against women is considered as Taboo. Violence against women is the most serious yet controversial issue of the world. All the countries, whether developing or developed, unable to eradicate violence against women completely. In Turkey, violence against women is being observed in different forms. The most recent survey was conducted in 2012, by the National Research on Domestic Violence against Women which reported that women are the most common victims of physical viloence, sexual violence and emotional violence. They are assualted by the male prepetrators either intimate partners or others.
The survey results depicted that by 2012, the women who being sexually assualted in 12 months and lifetime by their intimate partners were 7% and 15% of the female population. The total female population by 2012 in Turkey was 35,855,000. On the other hand, those who assaulted other than initimate partners in 12 months and lifetime were around 4% and 3% respectively. Unfortunately, there is no domestic/sexual violence victims statistics available to the Turkish healthcare system so it is difficult to find out the actual number of cases and victims of sexually assaulted victims til to date. The most surprising fact is that there are only two national women helplines available, one is run on the state level and other by private women NGO. In turkey, no separate center has been formulated for women survivors of sexual assault incidents. Research questions of the study are as follows: What is the societal response towards sexually assaulted victims in Turkey (specifically women)? What measures have been taken by Turkish government on sexual violence against women?
Over the past years, many psychological theories on sexual abuse and violence against women have been developed. These theories aim towards explaining the human behavior and thought via different cognitive, behavioral, social and developmental mechanisms. There are single as well as multiple factor psychological theories that expalin the behavioral changes of a person who accused women for his inner satisfaction. The single factor theories analyze sole component which is associated with the sexual violence like intimacy absence. The multiple theories analyze more than one component associated sexual violence behavior. For this study, the multiple factor psychological theory has been chosen to linked with the subject. Malamuth has constructed a multiple factor psychological theory to explain the causes of rape and other sexual violent activities. He explains two components ‘why’ and ‘how.’ Men behavior is more towards coersive sex than intimate sex because of the past worst experiences as well as harmonal changes. The another theory that has been constructed by Ward & Beech in 2006, depicted that males are prone towards violent sexual activities due to imbalance of biological, neuropsychological and ecological factors.
The most appropriate qualitative research method was used in the study for data collection and analyzing. Qualitative research method is useful for attaining indepth information. For that purpose, the primary and secondary sources were also used for attaining the most reliable and authentic information about the researched topic. In the primary source, the interview technique was used in which open ended questions were asked from the participants. There were five organizations’ representatives who work for women rights in Turkey. The name of the representative organizations cannot be revealed due to matter of privacy and confidentiality.
Face to face interviews were conducted on the feasible date and timings of the participants. The participants were allowed to backoff anytime during the interview process. Each interview responses were recorded in the tape recorder and the maximum duration was 45 minutes. Following were the open-ended questions asked from the participants: What are the common societal reactions that victim has to face; How victims relatives or friends react on this issue; How reaction of people affect victims; What are the reasons of unreported sexual violence (because survivors might not want to come up?); How should people react to victims, what is the best way?; What are the punishments for abusers in Turkey / is it enough?. In the secondary sources, articles, peer reviewed journals, books and published casestudies on the topic of sexual assault in Turkey were studied for better understanding of the subject.
Recently, an article has been published in the Hurriyet Daily News in which a survey results are discussed which was conducted by security general directorate. According to that survey, women are sexually and physically abused by the male prepetrators. The results further revealed that when females are less than 15 years of age, the cases reported of assault is 7%, whereas, 30% of the females become the victim when they enter in high school or higher level education. Apart from that, married women are also the victims of sexual and physical violence. Around 39% of the married women face physical violence and 15% face sexual violence.
The interview and secondary research findings depicted that Turkey is the male dominant society where women are suppressed and degraded to the extremes. Recently only those rape cases have been reported in which victims failed to survived. It has been evident that females who have been the victim of the sexual violence either by their intimate partners or others do not report to the authorities due to numerous reasons. One of the most eminent reason which secondary research as well as interview responses depicted is the family pressure. families do not support their women when they have underwent to such incidents. They ask the victim to remain silenced in order to keep the family honor secured.
If married women is abuse by her husband then she usually does not call up the police just because of the society set norms and values. In the turkish society, most of the women are the independent because their husbands do not allow them to work. This is one of the reasons that they do not separation or divorce decision because they are not able to feed their children. As the society is also considering sexual violent acts as Taboo where women is suppressed to keep their mouth shut. The stereotype thinking of family and peers restricts women to speak up against any sexual assault happened to her. This is one of key issues of unreported sexual violence incidents in the healthcare system and on the government official websites.
Sexual assualt is the serious crime which adversely affect the victims. If such incident happens in a male dominated society like Turkey, then the conservation societal reactions impact the victim negatively. the findings depicted that, it is important for family and the sorrounding people to support the victim and rise voice against the crime. The stereotype behavior of the people in the male-dominated society leads the victims nowhere but make them shattered physically, emotionally and psychologically. Victim starts feeling guilty of her own self, lack of control is the most visible symptom. Apart from it, she has gone through in the state of constant denial, shock, disbelief, sadness, isolation, anger, numbness and confusion. All these emotional reactions disturb the psychological condition of the victim and she may face post trauma stress disorder symptoms. A sexual assault victim by societal ignorance can face many serious physical injuries and health problems as due to lack of proper treatment they are more prone to HIV and STI dangerous health problems. The most affected ones from the sexual assault incidents are the victims and their families. This issue is not at all a Taboo but it is the most sensitive and significant issue which require awareness in the society. The best attitude towards the victims is to show support and helping hand for overcoming their emotional, psychological and physical stress.
Figure: Women Violence retrieved from Huffingtonpost
The huffington post image depicted that women experiencing sexual and physical violence by their intimate partners in Turkey and other Muslim states. The findings depicted that the around 50% or more cases are not being reported in these countries because of stereotype thinking or peer/family pressure.
Previously, the government was not taking essential steps towards protecting and creating awareness about sexual violence against women in the country. After several rape and murder cases have been reported, the government has now taken preventive measures againts this sensitive issue. A law for the protection of women against violence has been introduced by turkish government. The country aims towards integrating the Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (CAHVIO) into national legislation. The government is also working towards creating awareness through campaigns on the issue. Apart from that, the gender equality trainings will be provided to the law enforcement, civil servants as well as students, media etc.
It is important to open up on the serious yet most sensitive issue ‘Sexual Violence’ against women in turkey. Awareness campaigns and sessions must be given to the society members through which they must be taught that how to react on this issue. The more people get awareness of the pre and post measures on such incidents, the more frequency of the incidents minimized. Communities must be taught on the national platforms the ways of supporting victims and instead of keeping silence on the crime, the issue must be raised infront of the officials. The victim is equally responsible to get justice and protection.
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