Women in Turkey: The Numbers Are Stacked Against Them

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Journalist Ruhat Mengi speaks as women demonstrate outside the Turkish parliament to protest the rape and killing of children and women in Turkey. © Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images

It is, no doubt, a positive sign that the number of women in the Turkish parliament has increased after the recent election.  That said, women still only hold 14% of the seats in parliament.

Other numbers  are even more troubling.  Of the five million or so Turkish citizens who are illiterate, four million are women.  More shocking still is the extent to which Turkish women are the target of violence.

According to a 2009 study, 42% of  Turkish women, aged 15 – 60, are subject to domestic violence at some point in their lives.  Almost half of these women suffer this violence in silence, never speaking to anyone about it.  Only 8% approach any government institution for support.

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Beaches, Palm Trees, Displacement – Welcome to Sri Lanka's War Zone

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A glimpse of the former war zone in northeastern Sri Lanka (c) AIUSA. Screenshot taken from Google Earth

A glimpse of the former war zone in northeastern Sri Lanka (c) AIUSA. Screenshot taken from Google Earth

Amnesty’s Science for Human Rights project just released a satellite image of Menik Farm in Sri Lanka, a de-facto internment camp run by the military, which offers a rare glimpse of the massive displacement caused by the conflict. Mark Cutts, the UN official at Menik Farm, recently told the BBC that “nothing less than a new city had been created.”

Through this image, along with aerial photographs displaying the devastation in the so called “safe zone”, we want to offer the public a rare opportunity to see on the ground details in a country where journalists and international monitors are widely prohibited from documenting the results of the recent military showdown. Graves, shelters and a shipwreck are among the things visible on the aerial photographs. We have combined all this information in a Google Earth Layer (recent version of Google Earth required), in order to give activists around the world access – something the government of Sri Lanka is denying us so far–  and to call for accountability for the crimes committed by both the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers. (Many thanks to AAAS and Ogle Earth for their help in putting this project together).

Satellite image and photograph of Menik Farm. (c) AIUSA, Screenshot taken from Google Earth

Satellite image and photograph of Menik Farm. (c) AIUSA, Screenshot taken from Google Earth

U.N. emergency relief coordinator John Holmes recently described IDP camps in Sri Lanka as “internment camps”, stating that people are not allowed to move freely in and out. The people in Menik Farm are being vetted by the government to determine if there are any links to the Tamil Tigers.

We continue to closely to monitor the situation on the ground, so stay tuned for further information.