Legislation is Not Enough: Turkey Fails to Enforce its Violence Against Women Laws

Protests erupted in Turkey in February after the discovery of twenty-year-old Ozgecan Aslan’s burnt body in a riverbed. Aslan was stabbed to death while resisting an attempted rape. The perpetrator attempted to cover-up the murder and prevent Aslan’s identification by burning her body and cutting off her hands. Aslan’s death has drawn attention to the tragic reality that passing legislation is not sufficient by itself to end violence against women—there must also be enforcement of the legislation along with cultural recognition of the rights of women.

Özgecan_Aslan_-_VOASince 2000, Turkey has modernized its laws to provide greater protection to women. The Turkish Civil Code now grants women and men equal rights within the family. Following a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that Turkey had failed to protect a victim of domestic violence, Turkey enacted domestic violence legislation in 2012. Turkey’s Penal Code has also been updated to eliminate antiquated and paternalistic views of sexual assault and honor killings. Sex crimes are now defined as crimes committed against the individual victim rather than the family, and references to chastity, morality, shame, and public decency have been eliminated.

Continue reading

Workshop in Morocco: Making a Difference Now and Later

10606392_812576058824447_534051577579020973_nMorocco is an incredibly beautiful place, unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been. Just leaving the lingering Minnesota winter and stepping into a land of warmth and palm trees was a gift. When I arrived on Sunday evening I walked around the plaza by the train station in Rabat where people had gathered to enjoy the last hours of the weekend. Many people – men & women -were dressed in the traditional djelaba, children chased pigeons & balloon sellers added to the festivities. It felt like a very peaceful place.

On Monday morning we got to work and despite the differences – and the peacefulness – on the surface, the issue of violence against women is the same in Morocco as it is around the world – and worse than in a lot of places.

  • A government study there showed that in 2011 almost 63 percent of women in Morocco ages 18- 64 had been victims of some form of violence in the preceding year. 63 percent in one year!
  • 55 percent of these acts of violence were committed by the victim’s husband & only 3 percent of the wives reported the violence.

Continue reading

Don’t Feed the Trolls: A Report from CSW59

DSC02846

GRW’s Executive Director, Cheryl Thomas with Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, Lily Greenan, Rosa Logar, Rashida Manjoo and Jackie Jones.

Global Rights for Women’s three days at the United Nations 59th Commission on the Status of Women meeting was a mix of exhilaration and challenges. We were exhilarated by the heady experience of hearing from experts on women’s rights from around the world about their many accomplishments, reconnecting with old friends, and of course the response to the two events we sponsored and the other two that we participated in as panelists. At the same time our exhilaration was tempered by references to a backlash, obstacles and barriers.

Monday morning started with a standing room only crowd for our panel on “International and Regional Legal Standards on Violence Against Women.” The panel, led by Cheryl Thomas, included experts on European and Latin American treaties and a thought-provoking presentation on the United States’ potential to influence other governments’ response to violence against women through the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA), currently pending before Congress. I had to leave our event early to participate in a panel sponsored by the Inter Parliamentary Union on cyber-violence. The widespread interest in this topic in several panels and discussions during the conference is an indication of the Internet’s role in an exponential expansion of violence against women throughout the world.

Continue reading

Coercive control now a crime in the UK

The United Kingdom’s New Domestic Abuse Law

In December, the United Kingdom announced a new domestic abuse offense targeting “patterns of coercive and controlling behaviour,” commonly referred to as coercive control. Coercive control is broadly defined as an act or pattern of acts of assault, sexual coercion, threats, humiliation, and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten a victim. Domestic violence offenders who engage in coercive control do things like limiting the victim’s contact with friends and family, controlling her access to money, and determining aspects of the victim’s everyday life, such as when and what she eats.

The United Kingdom previously expanded its cross-governmental definition of domestic violence to include coercive control. The cross-governmental definition was used by government departments to target support services but was not a legal definition or part of the criminal law’s definition of domestic abuse. The criminal coercive control law is expected to come into force this year. It will serve as a model of domestic abuse legislation to other countries.

Continue reading

Our top priority

This is why we make ending violence against women our top priority at Global Rights for Women,  

And analysis of the criminal justice history of hundreds of thousands of offenders in Washington State suggests that a felony domestic violence conviction is the single greatest predictor of future violent crime among men.  With so much at stake, responding to violence against women should be a top priority of everyone.”

You can read the article here in the New York Times today.  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/03/opinion/to-stop-violence-start-at-home.html

Watching New Laws on Violence Against Women Globally: Does Electronic Monitoring Work?

img_1062This week Global Rights for Women is in Ankara, Turkey working with the government to monitor the use of an electronic monitoring system that is intended to ensure the safety of domestic violence victims.   Turkey included a bold provision allowing such electronic monitoring in their 2012 domestic violence law.

Global Rights for Women makes it a top priority to assess how new laws on violence against women are truly working in the daily lives of women. Are they keeping women safe? Are they holding violent abusers accountable?

Continue reading

What Phylicia Rashad’s defense of Bill Cosby says about why rape victims don’t report.

Phylicia Rashad, the actor who portrayed Bill Cosby’s lawyer-wife on the Cosby show, recently defended him against the growing number of accusations of sexual assault. Rashad says that the women’s accusations should be discounted because they are destroying Cosby’s legacy. In declaring that “this is not about the women,” she unwittingly demonstrates the reasons why rape victims are reluctant to report their assaults. This insightful article explains why:

Why don’t we believe rape victims? Because of people like Phylicia Rashad

Progress for women in 2014!

“From the passing of one of the Arab region’s most progressive constitutions enshrining women’s rights to changes in legislation to provide long overdue redress to wartime survivors of sexual violence, this timeline is a selection of some of the gender equality achievements, milestones and noteworthy moments from around the world this year.”
This is a link to a great timeline of 2014 milestones for women published by UN Women. http://www.un.org/womenwatch/timeline/2014-year-in-review.html
Take a look and take a moment to celebrate this hard won progress.  It is wonderful to read.
Global Rights for Women is ready and excited to build on this momentum in 2015. I am convinced that progress on women’s human rights is on a fast track forward.  It is up to us to seize this moment of great potential.

Continue reading

From the front-lines

Dear Friends,

Since early October, I have been traveling in Turkey, Romania and Serbia with our new organization Global Rights for Women.  Our mission is singularly focused on an issue that we believe is among the most urgent of our time – to achieve reform of law and policy that truly protects women’s human right to be free from violence. 

As I traveled, I have heard women’s stories of unspeakable horror and also ones of great hope – like this one from a woman in Turkey where a new law went into effect in 2012, 

My husband abused me for many years.   He broke my jaw and once he waited for me at my apartment and when I came in to the building, he stabbed me again and again.   I have many scars.  He always went free. The police were always trying to make us reconcile.   But the new law says they are forbidden to do that.  In fact, they will be punished if they do.  Before the new law I had nothing.  I just had to run from him.  Now he has been arrested and just last week I learned he will be in jail for a long time.  I am so happy.  I feel safe.

Continue reading

Update from a journey around the world

baltics-fall-2011-060I have just returned from an inspiring journey across a changing world and I am full of hope for women and girls. I traveled from the Baltic states of Lithuania and Latvia and continued an eastward path to the South Pacific island country, Tonga, all countries where new laws have passed aimed at ending violence against women. For three weeks, I have been surrounded by the amazing resolve of women’s activists and their tangible successes.  But my journey had a disconcerting backdrop.   As I traveled, I heard story after story in the daily media – girls in India, raped and hung to die, a Santa Barbara killer wanting revenge on young women, enslaved Nigerian girls and young, pregnant women in Sudan and Pakistan, killed or imprisoned for claiming their rights to live as they choose.

The contrast between my experience and the barrage of devastating news was stark.   I began to recognize it all as part of a world in transformation. We are moving rapidly from a place where vast numbers of women and girls are denied their human right to safety and equality to a world where this violence is exposed as a community shame, worthy of outrage and action. And laws.

Continue reading

Page 4 of 4