Domestic Violence and Human Rights

2013-03-07 22:52:00



Nazila Isgandarova

CSW57 is full of excitements and experiences. I represented National Council of Women of Canada and Canadian Council of Muslim Women. Starting from the first day, I wanted to attend as many workshops and conferences as possible organized by the government and NGO representatives.

On March 4, I attended the conference “Legal Reforms and Best Practices,” where the Turkish government together with the Netherlands, UK, and Azerbaijan presented their reports. The government delegations of the Netherlands and UK reported that they see domestic violence as a violation of basic human rights. Hon. Fatma Sahin, Minister of Family and Social Policies of Turkey, reported that how Turkey improved the legal system, and socioeconomic and political protection of battered women. Hon. Fatma Sahin discussed that eliminating and preventing all forms of violence against women and girls necessitates a holistic approach. Therefore, the Turkish government attempts to involve many sectors of the society, including non-governmental organizations, local administrations, the media and the private sector to tackle the violence against women.

Ms. Aynur Sofiyeva, deputy minister of State committee on Women and Family Affairs presented her report about the legal practices against domestic violence and the situation of 500, 000 refugee women who were subject of physical and sexual abuse of Armenian soldiers in Karabagh. However, she failed to touch the structural problems in Azerbaijan that breed domestic violence against women by police, and other government institutions. Therefore, I asked Ms. Aynur Sofiyeva to bring clarification on political prisoners, especially female prisoners for their political views and whether the government will create a democratic environment that will eliminate violence against women. However, Ms. Aynur Sofiyeva denied the fact that Azerbaijan has a political prisoner problem.

There were questions by other NGO representatives about Islamophobia, economic crisis, etc., in Europe, which increase the incidents of domestic violence towards women. The conference in general, highlighted the importance of governments to share their experiences in legal system in order to tackle violence against women, including rape, assault, murder, female genital mutilation/cutting, gender-based violence by police and military forces, trafficking and prostitution, and honour killings.

On Marh 4, I was told by the Kyrgyzstan representative about their workshop that was about the bride kidnappings in Kyrgyzstan, especially in rural areas. Bride kidnappings constitute one of the biggest challenges for women in this country. The government fails to develop strategies and plans to prevent this practice. The existing legal system is not efficient. The NGOs that want to help women who face these problems are not adequately funded. The speakers shared their findings about good practices and recommendations. In the end of the conference that was funded by Mamacash, Global Fund for Women, UN Women, a joint statement to CSW on VAW in villages was presented and signed.

One of the interesting panels that I attended was organized by the Journalists and Writers Foundation and Turkish Representative to the UN. The panel included the report by Fatma Sahin, minister of Family and Social Policies of Turkey, Mr. Mustafa Yesil. President of Journalists and Writers Foundation, Yasar Hakil Cevik, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN, Frank Uccaiardo, CBS UN Correspondent, H.E. Azize Sibel Gonul, Chairperson for the Equal Opportunities Commission for Man and Woman, Turkish Grand National Assembly of Turkey and Turkish scholars from the US and Turkish universities. The speakers mentioned that Turkish government has made significant efforts to ensure equal status for women and men in the family, removed discriminatory policies against women, criminalized rape within marriage and made honour killings a crime with a life-sentence punishment. However, the government implementation and enforcement of these reforms in Civil Code, Penal Code, and Family Law, has also had serious challenges. The speakers made recommendations how to coordinate the implementation of the legal reforms.  The panel also touched how the headscarf ban in Turkey continues negatively influence the lives of Muslim women and suggested that the AKP government needs to solve this problem as soon as possible; otherwise, they will lose significant votes in coming elections.  The participants also mentioned that without making significant changes in the system it is impossible that Turkish model can be replicated in other countries with similar cultural and political structure.

I also met with other government and NGO representatives from Mexico, Pakistan, Tunis, Turkey, etc., with whom we shared our experiences, discussed transnational NGO activism, and academic, legal and social service exchanges of ideas and practices.








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