Struggle to End Violence against Women and Mor Çatı
One of the most common human rights abuses in Turkey is violence towards women, similar to many other countries in the world. 4 in every 10 women are subjected to physical violence by their husbands or partners. Violence towards women within the family, within the home sphere and in intimate relationships have physical, psychological, economical and sexual dimensions. Violence towards women is based in male domination and therefore, can be traced at every layer of the society. Likewise, the motive behind male violence is that at times when males view their domination as under threat, they aim to strengthen their dominance even more through oppression and violence. Violence in the home sphere not only does damage women but also children. Physical injuries, extreme fear, feelings of incompetency, lack of self-confidence are a few examples of the consequences of violence.
Being murdered by your abuser is the heaviest consequence of violence. Most commonly, women are murdered by men who are the closest to them such as their husbands, partners, ex-husbands, ex-partners, fathers and brothers. We need to struggle to end violence against women, which is caused by the multifaceted inequalities between women and men observed in every sphere of life.
Mor Çatı is the first feminist organisation founded in Turkey with a purpose of struggling to end violence against women. The “Campaign for Women’s Solidarity Against Beating” in Istanbul in 1987 which was organised by feminists and supported by hundreds of women lead to the foundation of Mor Çatı in 1990. This campaign is regarded as one of the turning points in Turkish feminist history.
Mor Çatı volunteers work in accordance with the feminist principle of building solidarity with survivors of violence. With 10 applicants per day, the Solidarity Center provides support by telephone or face-toface appointments. First contact with applicants is usually made over the phone during which they are invited for a face-to-face meeting. The meeting focuses on understanding their needs and presenting them with options they might want to pursue with a strong emphasis on the fact that it is only and only the aggressor who is responsible for the violence. Women are supported and trusted with making the best decisions for themselves.
Solidarity by Volunteers: Volunteering at Mor Çatı is a multistep process in which volunteers are invited to join meetings, and attend workshops through which the principles of Mor Çatı are passed on. Volunteers at Mor Çatı do not think of themselves as emancipated women but rather as women who are constantly questioning their own prejudices, value systems and personal experiences of violence.
Psychological Support: Mor Çatı provides psychological support that aims to work on the psychosocial consequences of violence such as overcoming hopelessness, guilt, fear etc. Psychologists who volunteer at Mor Çatı need to have a women’s perspective and have to firmly believe that violence is neither provoked or deserved by women who are subjected to it.
Legal Support: Many women who get in touch with Mor Çatı ask for support in getting information about their legal rights and exercising them. Our legal support volunteers are lawyers who work in the field and have a women’s perspective when looking at the provisions and implementations of the current law.
The Shelter Operations
Mor Çatı has carried out three different shelter projects so far. The first one operated from 1995 to 1998 and provided 350 women and 250 children with shelter while trying to build a violence free life. In October 2005, a new shelter was opened in partnership with the Beyoğlu District Governorship and with a loan from the World Bank. Mor Çatı ran the shelter for three years with the help of volunteer social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists. Mor Çatı has been running an independent shelter project with the support of Şişli Municipality and its donors since 2009. The number of women and children who has stayed at this shelter between 2009 and 2017 has reached 380 so far.
Sharing our Knowledge and Experience through Workshops
Two different workshops are organised by Mor Çatı that share the legacy of our experience. One is a training workshops for volunteers, while the other is a training workshop for women who work at various shelters and solidarity centers around Turkey. Mor Çatı has entered many workshop partnerships with municipalities and women’s organizations from different regions of the country, an experience we believe strengthens our network of solidarity.
We Defend Our Lives!
Mor Çatı works towards creating a public and governmental awareness on the struggle to end violence against women, focusing on shortcomings in laws and encouraging the implementation of international conventions. Joint campaigns with other women’s organizations are carried out to monitor legal processes and exchange knowledge.
Assembly of Women’s Shelters and Solidarity Centers
Mor Çatı initiated Assembly of Women’s Shelters and Solidarity Centers in 1998. The Assembly brings together women from different organisations running a shelter (or planning to run one), municipalities and the ministry of Family and Social Policies.