The European Women’s Lobby organized a regional consultation meeting with Ms Rashida Manjoo, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women. The meeting, held in Brussels on 17th June, gathered representatives of 27 European-wide organizations.
This meeting represented a key opportunity for all European-wide organisations dedicated to women’s rights and to ending violence against women to share with Ms Manjoo concerns and opportunities about the situation in Europe, including Turkey, and to feed significant information into her work.
The mission of the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women includes to seek and receive information on violence against women; to inform UN on violations of women’s rights in regions of the world, and to recommend measures to eliminate violence against women. Ms Manjoo’s presentation was very inspiring and gave strong principles for common action: any form of violence against women is a violation of human rights, and women’s rights are not negotiable, at all levels and in all spheres of society. Her May 2011 annual report addressed Multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination and violence against women.
Participants then expressed the main challenges and opportunities they identify at European level with regards to the issue of violence against women. Roj Women’s Association had the opportunity to bring the following two points to the discussion:
1) The wide regional differentials across Europe and within European countries in rates of violence against women and in government’s effectiveness in addressing it. The uneven distribution of shelters for victims of violence against women across the region was used as an example of such differentials: most women’s shelters in Europe (Council of Europe geographic region) are in the EU, very few in other European countries (around 200). Furthermore, they are only 63 shelters for the 13 new EU member states (compared to 1800 for all EU 27 countries). Also, out of a total of 54 shelters in Turkey (for a population of nearly 80 million), only 15 of them are in Southeastern regions, where rates of violence against women are higher than in other parts of the country.
2) The importance of visibilizing intersectionality among policy-makers. In Turkey for example, higher poverty rates, and higher illiteracy rates among women, as well as displacement and conflict are the main factors that cross-cut gender in Southeastern regions, where 1 out of every 2 women are subjected to domestic violence.
This meeting was an excellent opportunity for Roj Women to raise these issues of concern to the attention of Ms Manjoo and to personally hand out our report ‘Is the Turkish National Action Plan to combat violence against women?’ which represents a joint advocacy effort of seven organizations working for women’s rights in Turkey and which exposes the lack of political will of the Turkish government to effectively tackle violence against women. The meeting was also an occasion to build relations with other groups in order to support each other’s advocacy work and to plan for future joint initiatives. We are thus very grateful to WIDE for making possible that Roj Women’s Association attends this gathering.