Press Release

Zero Tolerance Crucial to Confronting "Honour" Killings in Turkey, According to New UNFPA/UNDP Report

22 Nov 2005

ANKARA, Turkey — The eradication of killings in the name of honour in Turkey will not succeed without eradicating the mentality driving such crimes. This requires a zero tolerance policy supported by all social institutions, and the elimination of the general notion of hopelessness about preventing such crimes, according to a new report released here today.

The Dynamics of Honour Killings in Turkey: Prospects for Action, released today by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and UNDP, the United Nations Development Programme, analyses the social structures, lifestyles and mentality structures behind this most shameful type of violence against women. The report aims at guiding policies to eradicate violence against women, including killings in the name of honour.

The report notes that where such crimes are frequent, people close to the assaults approach the subject in a pessimistic manner, with little or no hope for change. This requires a social agreement to eradicate “honour” killings, including actions to break the chain of hopelessness and helplessness for preventing such events. Public statements by influential society leaders and organizations are crucial to ending this notion. The report cites a number of examples proving that individual actions can make significant difference.

Dynamics of “honour” killings call on national institutions to be fully committed to the rule of law and universal principles of freedom and equality, and to protect and promote the rights of women and girls. In order to eradicate the mentality that acquiesce to “honour” killings, says the report, the State must introduce a zero-tolerance policy. This policy should enjoy the full support of all social institutions, including State employees, teachers, policemen, religious leaders, legislators, prosecutors, judges, and others. It should also have the backing of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community leaders, families, educators and journalists.

The report proposes creating shelters, service stations and hotlines to protect vulnerable women and girls; training State employees in gender equality and the social and personal consequences of “honour” crimes; restructuring the national education system to promote gender equality; training young people, men, women, NGO activists and other professionals on “honour” killings; setting up local “discussion centres”, especially for families; working with religious and community leaders; and advocating for the full implementation of recent legal changes that oppose the practice.

The report also highlights the need to strengthen the ability of women, particularly young girls, to make their own decisions. It also notes the crucial role of the local media in providing information and raising awareness about how violence and murder in the name of honour violates human rights. Such messages could also be disseminated by community leaders, religious figures and popular personalities in the fields of science, arts and sports.

Factors that drive “honour” killings, according to the report, include socioeconomic deprivations and underdevelopment; patriarchal relations as a consequence of men’s dominance over women; role of the family within the society and how people raise their children, as well as other personal factors.

The Population Association of Turkey conducted the report’s research in four Turkish cities—Istanbul, Sanliurfa, Batman, and Adana. Participants in the study included groups from a cross-section of society, such as young people, public officials, teachers, police officers, lawyers, journalists and NGO members.

Contact Information:

Meltem A?duk, meltem.agduk@un.org.tr

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