By Zeynep Bener and Nina Keese
In Turkey, domestic abuse is a systemic issue, which has been exacerbated by the Covid crisis and lockdown rules. Turkey is traditionally a collectivist society, where individual wishes are perceived as subordinate to those of the community and personal merit is closely tied to families’ reputation and continuity. This makes it difficult for victims of domestic abuse to speak out, while acts of abuse are often excused by a supposed failure of the victim to subordinate and behave as a good wife, girlfriend, sister, or daughter.
At the same time, Turkish civil society, including women’s rights movements, has historically played a crucial role in securing important legal protection for women and changing mentalities. Yet over the past decade, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has stifled much of these efforts through its leniency towards gender-based violence, and more recently, its bid to remove protective legislation and a crackdown on human rights organisations.
In this context, Turkish organisations that play an essential role in preventing violence, protecting victims, and advocating for adequate criminal prosecution and conviction of offenders are more than ever in need of external support, including financial support. Below are a few groups and organisations to follow and donate to.
Mor Çatı Women’s Shelter Foundation is one of the best known and most active organisations fighting against violence against women in Turkey. It was founded by in 1990 and it aims to achieve gender equality and freedom for women by strengthening solidarity and through a feminist approach.
Mor Çatı provides shelter for women threatened by or experiencing domestic violence, or violence more generally. It also offers them legal, social, and psychological assistance. In addition, Mor Çatı aims to strengthen awareness in relation to gender-based violence, organising informatory workshops and disseminating information about different types of violence and strategies to adapt in the face of an immediate threat of violence.
You can make a donation here to support the work of Mor Çatı. Alternatively, you can purchase one of their super cool products here or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org (see photos here; t-shirts cost 90 TL, or about 11 USD). More information about the foundation is available on its website, and you can also support Mor Çatı by following its Twitter and other social media accounts.
Kadın Cinayetlerini Durduracağız Platformu (We Will Stop Femicide Platform)
Kadın Cinayetlerini Durduracağız Platformu (English: We Will Stop Femicide Platform) is the main source for statistics on femicide in Turkey. It started counting yearly gender-based killings when the Turkish government stopped doing so in 2009. The platform works to prevent femicides in Turkey and protect women at risk. Femicides are very often the tragic consequence of an escalation of violence over time, hence the platform also works to reduce and raise awareness about violence against women. A summary of the platform’s goals and activities can be found here. Donations can be made to the following account.
KAHDEM (Kadınlara Hukuki Destek Merkez Derneği; English: Legal Support Center Association for Women) provides legal assistance to women who experience violence and gender discrimination in Turkey. In addition to legal support, KAHDEM provides psychological, social, and healthcare assistance. Their aims include increasing awareness and bringing gender equality into work and everyday life, while their activities include the publication of research articles and brochures and cooperation with similar other organizations. Donations can be made here, and information about KAHDEM can be accessed here (only in Turkish).
KAMER was established in 1984 and focuses on women’s rights in Eastern and Southeastern provinces of Turkey. The foundation is very active on the ground, supporting women throughout the pandemic. KAMER’s activities include emergency assistance for victims of violence, entrepreneurship support, early childhood education programs, support for refugee women and children, and awareness projects. KAMER also provides information and support in Kurdish (8% of people in Turkey speak Kurdish as their mother language, or over 5 million). Information in English can be found here, and you can donate here to support KAMER’s work.
Kadın Dayanışma Vakfı (Women’s Solidarity Foundation)
Kadın Dayanışma Vakfı (English: Women Solidarity Foundation) was established in 1993, and fights against violence against women. It provides shelter services and support for vulnerable women, while also publishing articles, running projects and delivering seminars and conferences to raise awareness concerning gender-based violence. You can make a donation to the Women Solidarity Platform here and obtain more information on its website (mostly in Turkish).