Kerestecioğlu: Zero tolerance should be shown instead of seeking sexual abuse mitigating causes

Our Parliamentary Group Deputy Filiz Kerestecioğlu gave a speech at the PACE's joint debate titled Putting an end to sexual violence and harassment of women in public space. . Kerestecioğlu stated the following:

First of all, I would like to thank rapporteur Ms Françoise HETTO-GAASCH for preparing preparing this report with a great effort on sexual violence and harassment which is very important for every women.

Every female member of this parliament must have experienced the same feelings. The prevalence of sexual harassment can sometimes prevent us from going out, working and even using public transport. Concerns about sexual harassment that we experience at home, at work and on the street can cause us to hide our bodies and our sexuality.

Almost every woman living in Turkey is unfortunately exposed to street harassment in a part of their lives. Street harassment and sexual violence is so common because a government policy against street harassment has not been developed and almost all street harassment cases remain unpunished. According to the research dated 2016; 74.2 percent of women using public transportation in Istanbul do not feel safe. 74 per cent of respondents are exposed to or witnessed acts of sexual violence in public transport vehicles.

However, the struggle of women against sexual harassment continues for a long time.

In 1989, a group of feminist women organized an action in the public arena for the first time in Istanbul with purple ribbed needles in their hands to draw attention to street harassment. This campaign is known as the "purple needle" campaign in Turkey. With an ironic marketing message, women were selling this needle to other women as an effective weapon against harassment. Until now, women have been organizing dozens of actions against street harassment.

As the report explains quite successfully, harassment is never unique to a country or a culture.

Women from all around the world are often the ones who blamed for sexual violence in the public arena. The victims of violence can be asked questions such as "What were you doing on the street alone at night, why you were wearing shorts and tights?" Even the courts can consider these as mitigating factors. It is not enough that the law is good. Judges also have to apply the laws… Zero tolerance should be shown instead of seeking sexual abuse mitigating causes.

What is crucialis to make statements that the police forces and related institutions will take very strict measures to prevent the same thing from happening again and that they will follow a zero tolerance policy, as it is after the attack in Cologne.

Finally, I would like to call all member states again to sign the İstanbul Convention and implement the measures for combating harassment and sexual violence and I express my support for this important report again.

29 June 2017