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Cablegate: Women's Ngo in Se Turkey Changing Attitudes About "Honor"

VZCZCXRO5157
RR RUEHAG RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN RUEHLZ
RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHDA #0216/01 2840543
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 110543Z OCT 06
FM AMCONSUL ADANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4315
INFO RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 0862
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/39OS INCIRLIK AB TU
RUEHDA/AMCONSUL ADANA 0916

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ADANA 000216

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM TU
SUBJECT: WOMEN'S NGO IN SE TURKEY CHANGING ATTITUDES ABOUT "HONOR"
KILLINGS

REF: ANKARA 5606

ADANA 00000216 001.2 OF 002


Summary
-----------

1. (SBU) A women's non-governmental organization - KA-MER - has
established centers throughout SE Turkey and is making
impressive inroads against the practice of families killing
women who have damaged their "honor." Although social attitudes
remain regressive on this topic, KA-MER is influencing
government approaches and has intervened to assist over 80 women
facing domestic violence, and possible death in some cases. To
address the issue in the long-term, KA-MER is focusing on
education of women and all government agencies associated with
safety and health. End summary.

"Honor" Killings and Women's Rights
--------------------------------------------- --

2. (SBU) During a recent visit to Turkey's southeast, Adana PO
and Ankara POLCOUNS met with representatives of KA-MER (Women's
Center) in Diyarbakir and Batman. KA-MER is an NGO dedicated to
combating "honor" killings (KA-MER calls them "killings
committed under the guise of 'honor'"). Although KA-MER faces
enormous social barriers, in less than ten years it has helped
change the actions and attitude of government and law
enforcement, and has intervened to save the lives of dozens of
women. Together with other hopeful indicators of civil
society's growth in the SE (septel), KA-MER is showing that the
rapid social and economic change seen elsewhere in Turkey is
also having an impact in the economically deprived southeast.

3. (SBU) Research commissioned by KA-MER shows that residents of
the region continue to regard acts of adultery or "promiscuous"
behavior by young women as violations of family "honor" and that
such acts are serious enough to justify attacks on women or even
murder. In many cases, women facing the prospect of these
murders commit suicide or the murders themselves are passed off
as suicides. According to media reports, the number of such
deaths may be as high as 300 per year in Turkey.

Civil Society Responds
----------------------------

4. (SBU) KA-MER approaches the issue in two ways: for the
long-term, it provides training, consultation and services to
improve women's status. This includes classes for women
informing them of their legal rights, counseling for those
experiencing domestic violence and assistance for those
interested in starting businesses. KA-MER is also working with
the police and village-level officials to raise awareness of
domestic violence issues and offer their services when incidents
occur. Diyarbakir office head (and KA-MER founder) Nebahat
Akkoc noted that "honor" killings are not committed suddenly;
the situation normally develops over weeks or months and people
around the family are aware of the issue. She said that
"kaymakams" (central government-appointed sub-governors who have
contacts at the village-level) frequently call KA-MER saying
they believe a killing is going to happen but don't know what to
do - or that their hands are tied.

5. (SBU) Their plan, Akkoc explained, is eventually to create a
triumverate of village headmen (muhtars), imams and teachers who
can work as a team to help educate villagers and prevent
killings. KA-MER has passed this idea to the central
government. According to Akkoc, the Prime Minister's recently
released circular on measures to decrease "honor killings"
resulted from KA-MER feeding its ideas up the chain; the GOT
does not explicity acknowledge their authorship, but what
matters is the result (reftel). Akkoc is hopeful that the
circular may remove some of the barriers that have so frustrated
sub-governors and others who have previously been unable to
intervene to prevent such killings.

6. (SBU) KA-MER's second key role - crisis intervention - comes
into play here. Over the last three years, the centers have
assisted over 120 women who felt endangered in their homes, in
some cases due to potential "honor" killings and in others due
to abusive relationships. KA-MER has provided counseling,
mediation with the families, material assistance and in some
cases help resettling the victim to another part of Turkey. In
two provinces, Diyarbakir and Mardin, KA-MER's efforts have
prompted the establishment of "Emergency Intervention Teams"
that include NGO's, government agencies and local religious
officials.

Comment
-----------

ADANA 00000216 002.2 OF 002

7. (SBU) KA-MER is tackling a problem that is extremely complex,
involving deep-seated social practices and prejudices, a legal
system that until recently turned a blind eye and difficult
privacy questions. While far too many people continue to regard
violence against women as acceptable behavior, KA-MER's work
seems to be causing a paradigm shift in how Turkish officials
deal with these issues. Akkoc acknowledged that, although
KA-MER is now established in nearly all the provincial capitals
of the southeast, it is often difficult for women in outlying
villages to even know that such services are available. KA-MER
plans additional expansion to smaller cities, but its
representatives emphasize that expanded literacy and early
childhood education are the most important long-term weapons to
battle the conditions that result in these tragic deaths.
GREEN

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