Press statement: UN Women and UNFPA condemn the brutal murder of Özgecan Aslan and stand with the women and men of Turkey who combat gender-based violence

Violence against women and girls is a grave violation of human rights and it can only be put to an end by addressing its root causes – gender inequality and discrimination against women. UN Women and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) promote zero tolerance towards violence against women and girls and call for the effective implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, the Istanbul Convention – a ground-breaking international agreement that Turkey ratified in 2012.

Date: 17 February 2015

We, as UN Women’s and UNFPA’s Representatives to Turkey, condemn the horrendous murder of Özgecan Aslan and join in solidarity with the thousands of women and men who have taken to the streets across Turkey to say “No” to violence against women and girls. We recognize the considerable progress Turkey has made with regard to the legislation to combat violence against women and commend the Turkish Government for its leadership in promoting the Istanbul Convention, including by being the first government to sign it. The Istanbul Convention is in line with the global standards set out in the UN Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and can be an effective tool in making the world a safer place for women and girls, if implemented.

It is nonetheless concerning that notwithstanding the progress in Turkish legislation and institutional structuring, recent data on violence against women shows insignificant improvement since 2008 and violence against women is still pervasive with two out of every five women in Turkey exposed to sexual and physical violence. Violence against women has serious consequences for the victims but it also negatively affects families, the community and the country at large. Preventing violence against women can save lives and prevent human suffering. We therefore welcome the Prime Ministers condemning of the murder of Ozgecan Aslan and the announcement that a new National Action Plan to combat violence against women and girls will be developed.

The Beijing Platform for Action, approved by 189 governments in Beijing 20 years ago, calls for effective prevention strategies that address the root causes of gender inequality so that women and men be equally valued in the society and can exercise equal rights. It calls for better services for women survivors of violence and for effective legislation that protects women from domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence, including sexual harassment and rape, and for the effective persecution and punishment of the perpetrators.

All members of society, in particular men and boys, can help to reach the goal of creating a society free from all forms of violence against women and domestic violence. Each and every one of us can help to challenge gender stereotypes, harmful traditional practices and discrimination against women. It is only by achieving absolute gender equality that violence against women can be prevented.

Ingibjorg Gisladottir

UN Women Representative to Turkey and Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia


Zahidul Huque

UNFPA Representative for Turkey and Country Director for Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia