International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Since 1981 Feminist activists in Latin America and the Caribbean have marked November 25 as a day to combat and raise awareness of violence against women commemorating the deaths of three political activist sisters from the Dominican Republic, assassinated in 1960. Despite some progress in developing and well-developed countries, there is still a long way to go to combat aggression, discrimination and violence against women and 25 of November is recognised by major organisations across the world with the aim of combating and raising awareness of violence against women and girls.
Meanwhile, According to United Nations global study more than one third of women experience either physical and/or Sexual violence. However, some national studies show that up to 70 per cent of women experience physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime from an intimate partner. The same information confirms 71 per cent of all human trafficking victims worldwide are women and girls, and 3 out of 4 of these women and girls are sexually exploited. Further studies also demonstrate intimate partner violence and its corresponding impact threaten the lives of almost 35% of women at some point in their life.

While gender-based violence can happen to anyone, anywhere, some women and girls are particularly vulnerable – for instance, migrants and refugees, indigenous women and ethnic minorities, young girls and older women, women who identify as lesbian, bisexual, and those living through humanitarian crises. Violence against women continues to be an obstacle to achieving equality, development, peace as well as to the fulfilment of women and girls’ human rights.
These shocking figures have been exacerbated further by the current pandemic as domestic violence helplines has shown a sharp increase in their service. Emerging data shows an increase in calls to domestic violence helplines in many countries since the outbreak of COVID-19.Only 52% of women married or in a union freely make their own decisions about sexual relations, contraceptive use and health care.

Although there is not such information available about asylum seeking Iranian women in Turkey, we understand such shocking figures among this community are much higher than global figures. There are thousands of women who are not in control of their life, experience much harsher abuse, discrimination and violence which have been worsened by 40 years of Iranian regime’s systematic, backward and discriminatory approach all across public as well as private life against women in Iran.

Furthermore, the feminisation of poverty in Iran has become an obvious aspect of the combination of religious and capitalism system that is ruining the life of millions of women, and the dual pressure of poverty and sexism. For instance, 82% of the 3.6 million women who run households do not have a decent job and live under the poverty line. At least 500,000 or 16% of women heads of households are younger than 20 years of age.

We know by experience that the whole environment surrounding the life of vast majority of Iranian women seeking asylum in Turkey is even more severe and unbearable. They are still subject to violence, discrimination and economic hardship from their partner while they do not have access to any limited traditional support from their family or friends. There are no effective refugee or charity organisations who could supply appropriate advice, information, practical support. There are no state agencies or support from UNHCR that is responsible for providing protection and appropriate welfare support and security. This situation is even worse among women who are single mothers or from a poorer background with less or no education and the lack of understanding their rights and how to use this within a complex and extremely difficult mechanisms available to them.

The Solidarity Council of Iranian Refugees in Turkey representing large number of Iranian asylum seekers and refugees in Turkey is extremely concerned with the lack of progress in processing asylum applications as well as transferring those cases approved refugee statues to a third safe country. This is particularly important to women in refugee families and also single mothers who are in a very difficult position. In addition, there is an urgent need to provide appropriate safeguarding support for women who experience violence or abuse or who may be at risk of being abused by their partners and allocating proper resources and welfare support for children and women who are pregnant. We are also concerned that there are no or very limited support across state and charitable agencies for women who report or seeking support for the abuse they experience.

The Solidarity Council of Iranian Refuges in Turkey

November 2020

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