Promoting parliaments free of sexism and sexual harassment

56565466_305498860145409_252202923457511424_nMr / Mrs. President,
Honorable members of the Assembly,

I asked for the floor to comment on the report for “Promoting parliaments free of sexism and sexual harassment” and I take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation and congratulations to the rapporteur for the preparation of this report which will become a significant reference document for our future work.

On December 5th, 1934, Turkey accepted women’s right to vote and to be elected. Since then, women are active in Turkish politics. Unfortunately, in the UN’s 2017 “Women in Politics” report, Turkey’s rank is 132 among the UN members. In the 2018 general elections, only 104 women parliamentarians were elected to the Turkish parliament out of 600 seats. This is only 17% and it is a serious underrepresentation. Women’s participation in politics in my country should definitely be improved and presence should be increased.

Turkey was one of the first signatories of “Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence” namely the Istanbul Convention. Turkey is also a member of GREVIO. But Turkey is nowadays facing criticism from some Islamic NGOs and also from a government sponsored NGO named “KADEM”. Main set of criticisms are alleging that gender equality will “violate families,” “create ungendered youth,” “enhance creation of secular generations.” Within the framework of these criticisms, one of the projects of the Ministry of Education funded jointly by the EU and Turkey is now in serious jeopardy.

In Turkey, “The Committee on Monitoring of Violence against Women,” which is an essential mechanism for facilitating organizational coordination at the national level, convenes annually with the participation of representatives from relevant public organizations, universities, and NGOs. The term of sexual harassment is regulated in Article 105 of the Turkish Criminal Code (TCC) and also in the 24th and 25th Articles of the Labor Act. So in theory, women should feel quite confident that they are not facing any challenge of gender inequality, harassment or violence.

But Violence against women is not only “physical”, it can also be “sexual”, “psychological”, “economic” and “verbal”. These kinds of harassments and intimidations make women vulnerable in the society. Women politicians too are targeted because of their gender; they are blamed as “incapable,” and they face “verbal” violence.

In January, together with my colleagues from the Republican People’s Party, we participated and strongly supported the #NotInMyParliamentmovement and carried the concept and the initiative to our own national parliament to promote gender equality in each and every level of employment as well as in politics.

I therefore underline once more the importance of this report and support it entirely.
Thank you.