Charmes J, Dedeoglu S, Guessoam S, Jabiri A. Enhancing Women’s Voice, Agency And Participation In The Economy: Studies In Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia And Turkey. European Bank of Reconstruction and Development; 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract


In addition to its support for project work and policy dialogue, the EBRD’s Gender team also commissions research and takes an active part in the international debate on the promotion of gender equality.

In 2014 we commissioned a report, Enhancing Women’s Economic Empowerment in the EBRD’s Operations through Voice, Agency and Participation, examining the influence of legal pluralism and social norms in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey. The report’s main objective is to provide recommendations on designing project interventions at the Bank that are more reflective and responsive to women’s strategic and practical needs, while contributing overall to the enhancement of women’s voice, agency and participation in social and economic life within the specific contexts of these countries.

These five countries were selected, not only because of shared cultural similarities and Islamic heritage, but also because they co-exist in a region with the lowest women’s labour force participation and economic activity in the world. This is despite high levels of literacy and advances in health, and is what the World Bank has termed the “MENA paradox”. As our study shows, social norms, institutional barriers and discrimination embedded in plural legal frameworks are behind this paradox. As a result, women’s access to economic opportunities that might otherwise raise their voice and influence in society is particularly hindered in this region. The study was designed to align with the inclusive growth paradigm: equal access to opportunities for all members of society, taking into account their specific needs.

Initial findings and analysis were presented to various stakeholders in 2014, including the Multilateral Development Banks Working Group on Gender, the Development Finance Institutions Meeting of Social Experts, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and internal departments at the Bank. The full publication is expected to be available in early 2015.

CEDAW. Case of R. K. B. v. Turkey. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); 2012. Publisher's VersionAbstract



R.K.B.’s employer accused her of having an affair with a male colleague and dismissed her from the position but did not dismiss the male colleague, and threatened to “spread rumours about her relationships with other men” to pressure her to sign a document, attesting that she had been paid all her benefits upon termination. R.K.B. presented a claim to the Committee, alleging that her employer, a hairdressing salon, had unfairly terminated her contract of employment based on gender stereotypes. The Kocaeli 3rd Labour Court did not agree with the petitioner that dismissing her but not her male colleague was discriminatory. The court simply decided that the termination of her contract had not been justified.  R.K.B. appealed to the Court of Cassation, which dismissed the appeal without reference to gender discrimination.

The Committee concluded that the Turkish courts based their decisions on gender stereotypes, tolerating allegations of extramarital relationships by male employees but not by female employees. The Committee decided that there had been a violation of articles 5(a), 11(1a) and 11(1d) of CEDAW.  The Committee also responded to the State argument that laws on women’s rights had been adopted since the 1990s, hence meeting the due diligence standard, by explaining that the State has the obligation to actually improve women’s position in society and to eliminate wrongful stereotypes.  The Committee decided that adequate compensation should be paid to the author; that the State should take measures to implement laws on gender equality in the work environment; and that the State should provide training to judges, lawyers and law enforcement personnel on women’s rights and gender-based stereotypes.


“He Loves You, He Beats You” - Family Violence in Turkey and Access to Protection. Human Rights Watch; 2011. Publisher's VersionAbstract


This report documents brutal and long-lasting violence against women and girls by husbands, partners, and family members and the survivors’ struggle to seek protection. Turkey has strong protection laws, setting out requirements for shelters for abused women and protection orders. However, gaps in the law and implementation failures by police, prosecutors, judges, and other officials make the protection system unpredictable at best, and at times downright dangerous.

Case of Opuz v. Turkey. European Court of Human Rights; 2009. Publisher's VersionAbstract


Facts: The applicant’s mother was shot and killed by the applicant’s husband in 2002 as she attempted to help the applicant flee the matrimonial home. In the years preceding the shooting the husband had subjected both the applicant and her mother to a series of violent assaults, some of which had resulted in injuries which doctors had certified as life-threatening. The incidents had included beatings, an attempt to run the two women down with a car that had left the mother seriously injured and an assault in which the applicant was stabbed seven times. The incidents and the women’s fears for their lives had been repeatedly brought to the authorities’ attention. Although criminal proceedings had been brought against the husband for a range of offences, including death threats, serious assault and attempted murder, in at least two instances they were discontinued after the women withdrew their complaints, allegedly under pressure from the husband. However, in view of the seriousness of the injuries, the proceedings in respect of the running down and stabbing incidents continued to trial. The husband was convicted in both cases. For the first offence, he received a three-month prison sentence, which was later commuted to a fine, and for the second, a fine payable in instalments. The violence culminated in the fatal shooting of the applicant’s mother, an act the husband said he carried out to protect his honour. For that offence, he was convicted of murder in 2008 and sentenced to life imprisonment. He was, however, released pending appeal and renewed his threats against the applicant, who sought the authorities’ protection. It was not until seven months later, following a request for information from the European Court, that measures were taken to protect her.

McGlynn C. Rape, Torture and the European Convention on Human Rights. The International and Comparative Law Quarterly. 2009;58 (3) :565-595. Publisher's VersionAbstract


*This full article is available through this link. This article may be available free of charge to those with university credentials.

This article examines the legacy of the ground-breaking judgment in Aydin v Turkey in which the European Court of Human Rights held that rape could constitute torture. Ten years on, it examines jurisprudential developments in the conceptualisation of torture in the specific context of the offence of rape. It is argued that while all rapes should be found to satisfy the minimum threshold for Article 3, rape does not per se satisfy the severity of harm criterion for torture. Nonetheless, where the severity of harm is established, the case is made that the purposive element of torture is satisfied in all cases of rape. Finally, in relation to the scope of State responsibility for rape, particularly by private individuals, the article suggests that while the Court's achievements in recognizing rape as a serious harm are considerable, there remain further avenues for jurisprudential development which would ensure that rape as a form of torture is recognized in a wider range of situations and circumstances than is currently the case.

Case of Devrim Turan v. Turkey. European Court of Human Rights; 2006. Publisher's VersionAbstract


In 1999 the applicant was taken into police custody on suspicion of being a member of an illegal organisation, the DHKP/C (Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front). Two hours after her arrest she was taken to hospital to be examined. A medical report indicated the presence of an abrasion under one eye but no signs of ill-treatment on her body. Further medical examinations were carried out which also concluded that her body showed no signs of ill-treatment. The applicant refused to undergo a gynaecological examination on the first and the last day of her arrest and no such examination was carried out. Before a public prosecutor she denied the allegations against her and maintained that the statement she had made to the police shortly after her arrest had been taken under duress. She stated that she had been hosed with cold water, subjected to electric shocks and Palestinian hanging. She repeated her allegations before an investigating judge. Criminal proceedings were initiated against her before a state security court. She wrote to the court retracting her statement which she maintained had been made under duress. She also described in more detail her ill-treatment in police custody. She was found guilty as charged and sentenced to 12 years and six months’ imprisonment. She appealed to the Court of Cassation, referring in particular to her ill-treatment in custody, but her appeal was rejected.

CEDAW. Case of Kayhan v. Turkey. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); 2006. Publisher's VersionAbstract



In 2006, the Committee on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women considered Kayhan v. Turkey (C/34/D/8/2005). The author, a teacher in Turkey, was charged with the crime of “breaking the peace, silence and working order of the institutions with ideological and political reasons” for wearing a headscarf to her place of employment. On 9 June 2000, she was expelled from the civil service and her teaching position. On 23 October 2000, the author challenged her termination in an Administrative Court; the Court found the author’s termination lawful and dismissed her complaint, as well as her subsequent appeal. On 20 August 2004, the author submitted a complaint to the Committee, arguing that by terminating her status as a civil servant for wearing a headscarf, the State had violated Article 11 (discrimination against women in the field of employment) of the Convention.

Decision: Although the author’s employment was terminated before the entry into force of the Optional Protocol, the effects of this termination continued, thus eliminating any issue of temporal jurisdiction. However, the Committee still found the communication inadmissible, noting that the author failed to raise her claims of sex and employment discrimination in domestic courts before bringing these claims to the Committee. Thus, the author had not properly exhausted domestic remedies.