Eu/turkey: Ankara Urged to Enforce Women's Rights

Article excerpt

EP view.

The European Parliament's report pointed to various issues that have posed concerns regarding the situation of women in Turkey. These include violence against women (particularly domestic violence and crimes of honour and tradition); a high illiteracy rate; and a low level of participation by women in parliament, local representative bodies and jobs. The report noted that women make up only 4.4% of the parliament and around 1% of representatives in local assemblies. And, according to studies by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, only 27% of women in Turkey have managed to integrate into the labour market, down from 35% in 1998.

MEPs found that recent legal reforms in Turkey in the area of womens rights went a long way in implementing the acquis, or EU rulebook. But such progress now had to be applied concretely. "Translating those reforms and changes into practice and achieving practical results remains a major problem", the European Parliament report said. And women's rights were still insufficiently protected in practice, especially in terms of violence against women.

The EP called for "concrete gender-sensitive measures, programmes and projects for implementation", as well as continuous monitoring of the implementation of legislation, for example through regular "gender impact assessments". The government should set up shelters, support initiatives by civil society and provide adequate funds for shelters and "mandatory gender- and violence-sensitivity training" for public administrators, the police, the judiciary and health and educational personnel.

The Bozkurt report also said that Turkey needed to comply fully with EU norms on equal pay, equal opportunities and equal treatment of men and women in the labour market. It should improve womens access to the labour market and lifelong learning, among other things by fighting discrimination and ensuring compatibility of working and family life.

Commission take.

Speaking in the debate on the report late on July 5, European Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn touched on the rationale for pursuing the accession negotiations with Turkey due to start on October 3. He argued that it was the prospect of EU accession that gave the Union leverage to influence issues such as womens rights in Turkey: "No other perspective would give Turkey the same incentive to adopt and implement European values on gender equality as the prospect of its becoming a member of the Union", Mr Rehn insisted. …