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Opposition party demands Turkish government protects women as violence rises after lock down

TURKEY’S opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) has demanded immediate government action to protect women after a reported rise in gender-based violence followed calls for people to “stay at home” during the Covid-19 outbreak.

HDP MP Tulay Hatimogullari accused the Turkish state of failing to offer support to women exposed to violence and urged the Ministry of Labour, Family & Social Services to set up a “crisis co-ordination board.”

At least 18 women have been murdered, 12 in their own homes, since the stay-at-home call was issued last month, according to HDP women’s council spokeswoman Ayse Acar Basaran.

Women are “on the one hand trying to fight coronavirus” while also facing “a fight for life under the threat of male violence,” she said.

Ms Basaran argued that the government was responsible for the murders through its failure to protect women during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Ms Hatimogullari tabled a series of parliamentary questions to Labour, Family & Social Services Minister Zehra Zumrut Selcuk, warning that any move to restrict legislation protecting women “will encourage male violence and also act as a deterrent against women’s efforts to resort to legal mechanisms.”

She called for increased capacity in women’s shelters and emergency accommodation, asking what steps the government would take to facilitate admission and “eliminate the feeling that women are vulnerable.”

The MP for Adana questioned whether funds would be allocated to ensure that women have the financial support necessary to escape from violent situations and sought assurances that the Istanbul Convention, which contains measures to combat violence against women, would be implemented.

Turkey remains one of the world’s worst countries for women’s equality, ranking 130th out of 153 nations in this year’s World Economic Forum global gender-gap index.

At least 430 women were murdered in Turkey last year, with a number of high-profile cases provoking widespread revulsion and mass protests.

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