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GİLA BENMAYOR >Contrasting data on women in Turkey

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The report “Human Rights Record of the AKP [Justice and Development Party]” prepared by Zeynep Altıok, the deputy chair of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), and her team, once again displays the state of women in Turkey. 

To understand better what kind of a hell this country is for women, here are some data: 

Between 2001 and 2005, there were 13,928 femicides. 

Between 2010 and 2015, 232,313 girls between the ages of 16 and 17 were married off.  

In 2015 only, 17,789 children between the ages of 15 and 16 gave birth. 

In the past years, Turkey always fell behind in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report. In its latest report, among 144 countries, Turkey was ranked 130th. In political participation, Turkey was in 113th place and in economic participation, it stood at 129th place. 

In data regarding violence against women, which was collected by the Gezici Research Company, 44.7 percent of women in Turkey are subjected to violence. Among those women who are subjected to violence, 67.8 percent fear their husbands will kill them. 

When you review the rate of femicides, you can see that their fears are not unjustified. 

We are going through days when violence against women is approved by certain local administrators. For instance, the southeastern province of Gaziantep’s Şahinbey district municipality distributed a marriage guide to newlywed couples which detailed instances when beating up a woman was “required.” 

Aylin Nazlıaka, an independent MP from Ankara, took the subject to parliament a couple of days ago. She pointed out that the guide said “the remedy for any women who is deviating from the line is beating.” While you expect local administrators to support the vulnerable, it is surprising that a husband’s beating is listed among the requirements of marriage. 

OECD’s survey on women researchers is another face of the state of our women. According to its new data called “Main Science and Technology Indicators (MSTI),” among women researchers, Turkey ranked 11th among 30 countries. 

Latvia was first. It is hopeful that Turkey is ahead of many EU countries on this list. 

One of them, a young woman scientist of ours, was in Istanbul last week. Canan Dağdeviren, a physics engineer born in 1985, is the first Turkish person selected as a junior fellow at Harvard University. She is a graduate of Ankara’s Hacettepe University’s physics engineering department and has a master’s degree from Istanbul’s Sabancı University. She is an associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her invention, named PZT MEH, is shaped like a thin sheet that can be placed directly onto the surface of an organ. 

I met her three years ago in Boston, and she has come an incredible long way since them. 

Turkey is a country where some women are victims of violence and at the same time are able to shine in the field of science.

February/14/2017

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