Table of Contents
With the foundation of the Republic in 1923, Turkey has experienced rapid social and political transformation. Ensuring the equality between men and women; state support for women in entry into the public sphere; restructuring the legal system; efforts to transform the social traditions and values which were inherently discriminatory are some of the main axis of this transformation.
However, with respect to advancement of women and gender equality in the country, some problems still exist in practice. In Turkey, women do not confront with any legal obstacles in exercising fundamental human rights such as education, political rights, employment. Turkish legislation guarantees equality between men and women. The amendments in the Constitution constitute the most important part of the reforms directed towards women.
Nonetheless Turkey had placed explicitly the equality principle between men and women in her constitution formerly, by the addition of a provision to Article 10 of the Constitution, State has the responsibility to take necessary measures to provide women equal rights and opportunities with men. In this way, Turkey has become one of the very few countries that has a similar provision in their legal system. However, despite significant legal improvement, it is not possible to say that gender equality has been reflected completely in practice in accordance with these improvements.
In this case, a strong patriarchal culture, gender discriminatory traditions and practices have roles. In Turkey 25 % of the population (13 million) are women in the age range of 15-49. Naturally, with such a huge population of women, it is unavoidable that women’s problems are reflected to the social life of the country. Turkey, by increasing compulsory education to 8 years in 1997, has taken a significant step to get over the problems in education that women are faced with; targeted to make schooling rate reach 100 % for girls and boys until 2010. In this framework, many projects have been initiated.
Another problematic area, employment of women is still among the basic areas of problem. Turkey has taken this issue under legal and constitutional guarantee by incorporating provisions regarding equal participation of women and men in working life both into its Constitution and into the Labour Act
With the New Labour Act, effective as of 2003, it is resolved that no discrimination with any reason in terms of basic human rights, including sex is permissible in the relationship between the employer and employee. In this context, the Law includes provisions ruling the employer must not make any discrimination, either directly or indirectly, against an employee in the conclusion, conditions, execution and termination of her employment contract due to the employee’s sex or maternity, differential remuneration for similar jobs or for work of equal value is not permissible and sex, marital status, family responsibilities, pregnancy and confinement shall not constitute a valid reason for termination of the contract.
Besides, provisions regarding sexual harassment in the workplace and part time work are also included in the Law for the first time. Provisions in the State Personnel Law and Vocational Education Act on access to work, promotion, training and work conditions are also regulated on the basis of non-discrimination principle. In parallel with these arrangements, the Prime Ministry Circular related to “Acting in Accordance with the Principle of Equality in Employee Recruitment” has been issued. With the mentioned Circular, governmental institutions have been instructed on the subject of no discrimination shall be made on the basis of gender, except for service requirements, during staff recruitment. Although the equality between women and men is ensured legally, women’s labour force participation rate was only 24.8% in 2007, while this rate was 71.3% for men. Additionally, in the context of globalization, unemployment of women during the last two decades has shifted to unregistered economy. Agriculture is still the sector that employs women most. Even this sector causes women remain as unpaid family workers, it motivates women to socialize and participate in decisions. The basic reason of working women to end their work life after a short period and/or not to be able to show their potential for advance in their career is the problem for women to reconcile their work and home life. The number of day care centres in the country is still insufficient in spite of all efforts.
The Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) measures gender-based discrimination in social norms, practices and laws across 160 countries. The SIGI comprises country profiles, a classification of countries and a database; it serves as a research, policy and advocacy tool for the development community and policy makers.
The SIGI covers five dimensions of discriminatory social institutions, spanning major socio-economic areas that affect women’s lives: discriminatory family code, restricted physical integrity, son bias, restricted resources and assets, and restricted civil liberties. The SIGI’s variables quantify discriminatory social institutions such as unequal inheritance rights, early marriage, violence against women, and unequal land and property rights.
In the Social Institutions and Gender Index 2014 Edition , Turkey has low levels of discrimination against women in social institutions. It has lower discrimination in restricted access to resources and assets and higher discrimination in restricted civil liberties. Read the full country profile and access the data here: http://www.genderindex.org/country/turkey
Legislation on Family Protection
The Constitution established the principle of equality between spouses as a basis for the family. The new Turkish Civil Code strengthened equality between the spouses and considered women totally equal to men in family and society. Civil marriage is one of the fundamental principles underlying the law that regulates marriages which was adopted with the establishment of the Turkish Republic.
This principle is also reflected in the new Civil Code. According to the law, basic condition of marriage is full and free consent of the couples getting married, weather a minor or an adult. The new civil code rose the legal age of marriage for women from 15 to 17 and equalized with men. According to the Law, boys and girls who have not completed 17 years of age can not get married. However, under extraordinary conditions and for an important cause, the judge may permit boy or girl who has completed 16 years of age to get married. As regards to the parent-child relationship, both spouses have parental authority over the children. In case of disagreement, the judge shall determine.
The new Turkish Civil Code accepted “the regime of participation in acquired property” as the legal matrimonial property regime. In this legal regime, unless the spouses agree upon a different regime, the acquired property that each spouse acquires during the marriage is shared equally when the marriage comes to an end. According to the Law, spouses have freedom to choose their job and profession. On the point of sharing the inheritance, surviving spouse may demand the right to residence or usufruct on the domicile that the spouses lived together and owned by the dead spouse. An important arrangement related with the family protection is the Family Protection Law which was entered into force in 1998. In 2007, an amendment was made in order to eliminate the problems related to the implementation of the Law and to ensure the efficient implementation of this Law, the prepared Regulation was entered into force on 1 March 2008. With this Law, widening the scope of the violence, the spouses who live separately although being married, the spouses about whom the court gave decision to separate or the spouses who have right to live separately and the children are also protected. Using the expression of “guilty partner or other family member” in the Law, the other members of the family who live under the same roof are also covered within the scope of law. It is also included in the Law that the judge of the family court may decide the perpetrator to “apply to a health centre for inspection or treatment, and it is also resolved that the applications to enjoy from the law and the procedures for the execution of the law are free of charge.
“The new Turkish Penal Code” has very important revolutionary regulations concerning women. The most important regulation is abolishing the approach of the previous law which took the societal norms as a base and evaluated many crimes that victimize women as crimes against society. With the abolishing of this approach, the new law gives priority to the protection of individual rights and freedoms. In this context, distinction between women and girls was eliminated, marital rape and sexual harassment at work place are defined as crimes, for the first time. With the addition of the expression of “in the name of honour” to the article in which the major forms of felonious homicide requiring the aggravated lifelong sentence are regulated, it has been recognized that the perpetrators of honour and custom killings shall be given the highest sentences. To make an arrangement about the issue of virginity tests which is the most controversial issues in Turkey, genital examination is regulated in a separate article in the New Law. With this arrangement, a person who sends a woman for genital examination or carries out this examination without a decision taken by an authorized judge and prosecutor is made liable to penalty of imprisonment from three months to one year. With the aim of eliminating violence against women which is a serious problem, a Parliamentary Investigation Commission was established for “Investigating the Reasons Behind Honour and Custom Motivated Murders on Violence Against Women and Children, and Identifying the Measures to be Taken” in 2005. The Commission Report put forth the vital tasks to be carried out by social parties for the prevention of such crimes and violence and for changing the traditional mind-set on the issue. Within the framework of this report, the Prime Ministry Circular has been issued to coordinate the activities of the related governmental institutions, universities, NGOs and the media on the topic of “The Measures to be Taken on the Prevention of Violence Against Women and Children, and Honour and Custom Motivated Crimes.”
Legally, there are no restrictions on women’s freedom of movement. Women, single or married, have the same rights of movement as men. A woman, carrying a valid passport, may travel to any country. The spouses jointly choose the domicile that they will live together. The clause in the former law that established the wife’s place of domicile as the domicile of her husband has been removed from the definition of legal domicile. Turkish law envisages that spouses reside together.
With the adoption of the new Civil Code and other legal reforms, all existing discriminatory provisions with regard to women’s access to land has been eliminated. Therefore, there are no legal constraints to women’s land ownership.
The Women, Business and the Law
Where are laws equal for men and women?
The Women, Business and the Law, 2012 presents indicators based on laws and regulations affecting women’s prospects as entrepreneurs and employees. Several of these indicators draw on the Gender Law Library, a collection of over 2,000 legal provisions impacting women’s economic status. This report does not seek to judge or rank countries, but to provide information to inform discussions about women’s economic rights. Women, Business and the Law provides data covering 6 areas: accessing institutions,using property, getting a job, providing incentives to work, building credit, and going to court. Read more about the methodology.