To Prevent Violence Against Women and Ensure Quality Services for Women Experiencing Violence, Coordinator Ayşe Tek Highlights the Need for Implementing the ‘Empowerment of Health Mechanisms for Women Experiencing Violence’ Project.
The Turkey Family Health and Planning Foundation (TAPV), a member of the Sexual Health and Reproductive Health Platform, is conducting efforts to reach women through collaborations with experts in the health sector and those working on violence against women as part of the ‘Empowerment of Health Mechanisms for Women Experiencing Violence’ Project. The project, implemented with the financial support of the European Union under the Strong Civil Society for Gender Equality project by the United Nations Women, aims to address one of the most widespread human rights violations, violence against women. Ayşe Tek, the Project Coordinator, stated, ‘Violence against women is a common human rights violation worldwide and a public health issue that needs to be addressed. One in every three women globally is subjected to physical or sexual violence by their spouse or close partner.’
Within the project, the #IHaveAComplaint campaign was launched on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to raise awareness about women’s rights in the healthcare system and the impact of violence on women’s health. Throughout the campaign, 450,000 individuals were reached. Additionally, an online learning module addressing the health consequences of violence against women was created on the TAPV Academy page.
Awareness campaigns were conducted
Project Coordinator Ayşe Tek mentioned that they conducted research in 2023 to understand the current situation of the health system in combating violence against women from the perspective of professionals working in the field. She stated that they prepared a policy document with the CISE+ Platform Women’s Health Working Group. Ayşe Tek noted their lobby visits to key institutions such as the EU Delegation, UN Women, Turkish Women’s Union, Social Workers Association, and Family Physicians Associations Federation. She said, ‘We organized two workshops with professionals working in the field of violence against women, including forensic medicine, family physicians, social workers, psychologists, public health experts, doctors, and lawyers. Through our workshops and reports, we collaborated with more than 150 experts by speaking with them individually. We organized a webinar for social workers, psychologists, and healthcare professionals, with over 200 professionals participating. We transformed this webinar into the Violence and Health Training Module for Experts on the TAPV Academy, reaching approximately 1000 people. We continue our efforts to enable experts to gain a women-focused perspective in this field.’
4 out of 10 women experience physical violence
Tek highlighted that, according to the 2014 Turkey Domestic Violence Survey, 5 out of 10 women experience emotional violence, 4 out of 10 women experience physical violence, and 1 out of 10 women experience sexual violence. She said, ‘The principles and criteria that the health system should follow regarding violence against women are specified in international and national regulations. However, it is very challenging to say that these are implemented and intervened in every case of violence against women. To overcome this, it is crucial to develop a gender-equal and women-focused approach in cases of violence against women.’
10 measures for women experiencing violence
As part of the project, 10 suggestions were made to prevent violence against women:
- All healthcare professionals working with women subjected to violence should receive regular professional training on gender equality and combating violence against women.
- Medical faculties and departments training healthcare professionals such as midwifery and nursing should include education on medical and health law, gender equality, and combating violence against women in their curricula.
- Family physicians should know the structural referral/guidance algorithm to support women experiencing violence, and inter-institutional collaboration and support for family physicians should be ensured.
- When determining the security of family physicians, regional differences should be taken into account.
- Due to the increase in cases of violence against healthcare workers, protective-preventive regulations should be implemented for both women and healthcare workers.
- Law enforcement officers trained in gender equality and combating violence against women should be present in hospitals.
- After a woman subjected to violence reaches the hospital, the interview should take place in a room where the woman’s privacy rights and professional trust relationship are respected.
- By establishing contact with a social worker, a protective-preventive intervention plan should be developed.
- As a pilot application focused on sexual violence cases, Women’s Medical Support Centers should be qualified and expanded to all cities.
- Professionals working directly on trauma, such as psychologists and social workers, should be available 24/7 in these units.