A total of 1,687 women subjected to various types of domestic violence sought help from the Mor Çatı Women’s Shelter in 2020, according to the foundation’s annual report, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported.
The report, which was published yesterday, said the number of young women who requested help increased in the past year. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many young female students were home-bound because of online education. Many women had to return home because of lockdowns and curfews, which caused an increase in domestic violence cases,” it said.
Mor Çatı Women’s Shelter was founded in 1990 by feminists to protect and shelter vulnerable women in Turkey.
According to the report while the oldest woman to seek help in 2019 was aged 70, in 2020 it was 75. Five minors under the age of 15 also sought help from the foundation. However, most of the applications came from the 25-34 age group.
The report also included figures on the perpetrators of domestic violence, which indicate that 844 were husbands, 55 ex-boyfriends, 97 fathers, 81 other family members and 57 ex-husbands.
More than 160 women reported psychological pressure, and 61 women said they were being stalked. While 849 women sought help for physical violence, 374 women claimed restrictions on their economic independence and 197 reported sexual violence.
“The COVID-19 pandemic caused a lot of psychological tension in the household, and many women said they feared contracting the virus because the men in the house did not comply with quarantine measures,” said the report.
Hence, women feared the virus would be brought inside the home due to this reckless behavior.
Some women also said they were spit at by men during tense moments, with the intention to humiliate and cause anxiety.
Many women also said their partners threatened to harm them physically. The report emphasized that many violent men told their partners they were not afraid to seriously harm or kill them, saying that they would only serve three years in prison at most.
Femicide and violence against women has become a serious problem in Turkey. Victims have said that authorities were not effective in protecting them, and the police did not take action against men who violated restraining orders.
A report released by the Stop the Murder of Women Platform showed that 28 women in Turkey were victims of fatal domestic violence and 19 others were found dead under suspicious circumstances in March alone.
According to a report previously published by Sezgin Tanrıkulu, a human rights defender and deputy from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), nearly 7,000 women have been victims of femicide during the 18 years that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been in power.
Despite the grim situation of women’s rights and the rising number of femicide and domestic violence cases, Turkey withdrew from the Istanbul Convention, the Council of Europe’s (CoE) binding treaty to prevent and combat violence against women, through a presidential decree issued by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on March 20.
The 2011 Istanbul Convention was signed by 45 countries and the European Union, of which Turkey was the first. It requires governments to adopt legislation prosecuting perpetrators of domestic violence and similar abuse as well as marital rape and female genital mutilation.