Our Laws are considerably equalitarian in the aspect of the equality between women and men and recently very important regulations have been made in the Constitution and in other laws. I wish to mention about these improvements, briefly.
In Turkey, the principle of equality between women and men takes place in the Constitution with the Article of “All individuals are equal without any discrimination before the law, irrespective of language, race, color, sex, political opinion, philosophical belief, religion and sect, or any such considerations. Men and women have equal rights. The State shall have the obligation to ensure that this equality exists in practice” and the articles which state that gender-based discrimination shall not be made are included in other laws. Besides, the statements such as “Family is the foundation of the Turkish society and based on the equality between women and men” and the issue that “the international agreements regarding fundamental rights and freedoms including the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women shall prevail all our laws” are also regulated.
Contemporary regulations which ensure equality between women and men are made in the New Turkish Civil Code, entered into force in 2002 and which has a basic law nature that regulates the rights and obligations of the citizens.
The Civil Code includes regulations which put an end to gender discrimination and state that women and men are equal in the family and society under the principle of equality between women and men.
Basic amendments made to the New Civil Code are as follows;
Spouses shall carry out the conjugal community together,
The spouses shall choose together the house that they will live.
The amendment made in 1997 gives woman right to use her own surname (maiden surname) on condition that her own surname comes before the surname of her husband. This amendment is also included in this new Law.
It is also regulated that the guardianship of the children shall be used by spouses, together.
One of the spouses shall not be obliged to have the permission from the other spouse in the selection of profession and job.
With the new Law “the regime of participation in acquired property " was adopted. According to this property regime, spouses shall share the properties gained after the marriage in an equal way in case of divorce.
In the Law, the reasons for divorce are stated as fornication, criminal intent to put an end to life of somebody, humiliating behavior, perpetration and leading undignified life, desertion, mental illness and getting damage of the marriage.
In the Law it is stated that during the alimony cases after divorce, the court in the province that demander of the alimony resides shall be accepted as the authorized court.
Another amendment is that the surviving spouse has the right to residence or usufruct can be granted in lien of ownership in consideration of her proportion of inheritance.
Contemporary regulations are made to the Civil Code on the adoption of a child. Spouses shall adopt a child just together. It is required that the spouses who want to adopt a child shall be married at least for five years or over 30. Persons who are not married but over the age of 30 can adopt a child themselves.
Distinguished Participants, In the New Penal Code prepared taking into consideration the equality between women and men and entered into force in 2005, many offences that women are victimized are classified under the section “crimes against individuals” instead of “crimes against society”. Besides, women-girl difference is aborted in the New Penal Code and equalitarian regulations are made. Important articles of this Law are as follows;
In the implementation of the Turkish Penal Code, no discrimination based on race, religion, language, nation, sex…etc. is permissible among people and no privilege shall be conceded to anybody.
Sexual assault and sexual harassment in the workplace are regulated and the people who commit this offence are punished.
As the worst form of violence against women and as the infringement of right to live, it is adopted that the offenders of honor and custom killings shall be punished with the highest punishment stated in the Law in order to prevent honor and custom killings.
Besides, it is regulated in the Law that if one person instigate or encourage somebody to commit a suicide or another person who help the other to commit this crime shall be punished.
The crime of malicious injury is also regulated and in case this crime is committed against an ascendant or descendant or committed against the spouse or brother/sister the punishment has been increased.
Also, maltreatment to another person living in the same dwelling shall be punished.
With the reformative Law on the Protection of Family entered into force in 1998 with the aim of preventing domestic violence, concept of domestic violence was defined in a legal text for the first time in Turkey and it was ensured the police and the justice mechanism to take action without the complaint of the victim in case of domestic violence.
In 2007, an amendment was made in order to widen the scope of the Law. According to the Law, when the spouse or the children or other family members living under the same roof apply to Family Court themselves or the Public Prosecutor declares to the Family Court that domestic violence occurs, the Judge of the Family Court may adjudge the following precautionary measures or other measures against the violent spouse or other family member. These are:
a) Avoiding from the threat and violence oriented behaviors against the spouse or children or other members of the family living under the same roof,
b) Staying away from the common house and from the working place of the spouse and allocating the common house to the spouse or if they have to the children,
The faulty spouse is warned that if he/she behaves against the measures taken by the judge, he/she will be arrested and sentenced to imprisonment. The spouse or other family member who behave against the measures taken by the judge may be sentenced to imprisonment from three up to six months.
The applications to make use of the law and the procedures for the execution of the law are free of charge.
Distinguished participants, the most important improvement achieved with the New Labour law, entered into force in 2003 and which includes important amendments with the aim of ensuring the equality between women and men, and, no discrimination based on human rights including sex is permissible in the employment relationship and the contract shall not be nullified based on these reasons.
According to the Municipality Law, Metropolitan Municipalities and municipalities that have a population of over 50.000 shall have obligation to build guest houses for women and children to provide service for women victimized by violence. In this way, the protective and preventive services provided for women victimized by violence will be enhanced.
Besides the enforcement of new laws, circulars and directives have also been issued. There is a Prime Ministry Circular on “Gender discrimination shall not be made during the employment processes in the public institutions and shall be acted in accordance with the principle of equality”. All public institutions and organizations are obliged to obey this circular. On the other hand, the conditions for night shift of women, establishing rooms for pregnant and nursing women in the work places are regulated in the circulars by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security within the framework of New Labour Law.
There is also a Prime Ministry Circular on “Investigation the Reasons behind the Honor and Custom Motivated Killings and Violence against Women and Children and Measures to be Taken” which confers responsibilities to all parties.
There is a Law Proposal in the Turkish National Grand Assembly to establish a Commission for Equal Opportunities with the aims of; following the improvements achieved in our country and in other countries on the protection and enhancement of human rights of women and ensuring the equality between women and men, providing information on these improvements to the Turkish National Grand Assembly and giving opinion on the convenience of the draft and proposals of laws submitted to the Turkish National Grand Assembly with the national legislation. The process for the proposal to become a law still continues.
Within the scope of the European Council Directive on “Adoption of the Measures That Encourage Enhancement of Health and Security in the Work Place of Pregnant and Puerperal Women” and “ The Framework Agreement on Leave for Family-Reasons”, law proposal was prepared for the regulation on Parental Leave and submitted to the Turkish National Grand Assembly. The process for the proposal to become a law still continues.
Thank you for listening my explanations attentively.