Lack of Women’s Access to Justice in Turkey


Commission on the Status of Women 66th Session Virtual Parallel Event LACK OF WOMEN`s ACCESS TO JUSTICE in TURKEY
22 March 2022, Tuesday | 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM (EST)

On the occasion of the 66th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, Set Them Free organizes a virtual parallel event “Lack of Women`s Access to Justice in Turkey” on 22 March 2022, Tuesday at 2:00 – 3:30 PM (EST).

According to the World Justice Project, Turkey has ranked 117th among the other 139 countries in the rule of law score in 2021. Justice systems are not accessible and affordable as well as judiciary bodies being not independent, free from discriminatory practices, corruption and they rely on improper intervention of higher public officers. This crackdown has inevitable effects on the status quo of the women`s rights in Turkey. Since the last several decades, fundamental human rights have been violated increasingly due to the extreme police force against peaceful women’s rights activists, abusive government policies, arbitrary detention of women dissidents, journalists, public officers. Women`s lack of access to justice systems and rule of law not being implemented have been fostering violence against women in society which resulted in dramatic levels of femicide and gender-based killings in Turkey.

With the focus on the lack of access to independent judiciary, Set Them Free will bring experts on Turkey to elaborate on the shadow pandemic and domestic violence, violation of women`s rights in prisons and against women who lost their jobs due to decree laws under unlawfully extended state of emergency terms and lastly but not least violence against women decision makers.

Women’s Rights under Authoritarian Regimes

Commission on the Status of Women 66th Session Virtual Parallel Event

Commission on the Status of Women 66th Session Virtual Parallel Event WOMEN`s RIGHTS UNDER AUTHORITARIAN REGIMES
14 March 2022, Monday | 12:00 PM – 1:30 PM (EST)

On the occasion of the 66th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, Set Them Free organizes a virtual parallel event “Women`s Rights Under Authoritarian Regimes” on 14 March 2022, Monday at 12:00 – 1:30 PM (EST).

Throughout the world, authoritarian regimes continue to oppress women`s rights and their meaningful participation at all levels of economic, social and political life. Such violations of human rights are channeled through cultural, religious and civil stereotypes and facilitated by socially constructed gender roles. Such undemocratic, authoritarian one-man regimes are restricting civil spaces of women and girls. This state behavior inevitably “normalizes” violence against women, gender-based killings and femicides.

In this virtual gathering, Set Them Free will bring together women human rights defenders from Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and Uyghur to discuss country case studies from different parts of the world. The experts will elaborate on the violation of women’s civil and political rights under authoritarian governments, the compulsory hijab struggle, ethnic violence against Kurdish women and the crimes against humanity that Uyghur women are combatting.

CSW 65th Session Parallel Event

Combating all Forms of Violence Against Women: Turkey Case

8 March 2021, Thursday at 12:00 PM EST

Step by Step Registration Guide


On the occasion of the 65th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, the Set Them Free organizes a virtual parallel event entitled “Combating all Forms of Violence Against Women: Turkey Case” on 18 March 2021, Thursday at 12:00 PM EST.

Since the last decade, there has been a dramatic increase in violence against women in all forms: physical, emotional, economic and social. Domestic violence and femicide have risen to highest numbers in Turkey. Dissident women, especially in civil society, media and judiciary, who are promoting human rights and raising awareness on the oppressive government policies, have been facing violence in different forms. Many women leaders in the Turkish society are being arbitrarily arrested and discriminated against based on their political opinion, culture and ethnicity. 

In this panel session, while informing the audience on the latest status quo against women in civil and political space, we would like to discuss how could this violence be combatted and a peaceful society with women`s meaningful participation in every sphere of life can be re-established.

Date and Time: 18 March 2021, Thursday at 12:00 PM EST
The Virtual Panel will be held at the NGO CSW65 Official Website:

Bogazici University Protests in New York and Las Vegas 

Bogazici University Protests in New York and Las Vegas 
21 January 2021 

Set Them Free advocates have gathered in New York and Las Vegas on January 21, Saturday to stand in solidarity with the peaceful students practicing their right to protest. Set Them Free strongly condemns the arbitrary detentions of tens of Bogazici University students. Being one of the most prestigious universities in Turkey, Bogazici University`s students are subjected to brutal police blockage. For over a month, students and faculty members have been protesting the undemocratic appointment of Melih Bulu. Despite the police interventions, Bogazici faculty is still resisting and demanding their right to choose the rector. As academic integrity is under the state control, Set Them Free calls on international organizations and academic institutes to unite their voices to support the democratic rights of Bogazici University students and faculty members.

Urgent Action for Fatma Gormez

The Critical Health Situation of Fatma Gormez and Urgent Action for the Release of Bekir Gormez on the Conditions of Pending Trial Without Arrest

Under the state of emergency, imposed after July 2016 attempted coup and lifted on July 2018, President Erdogan presided over the cabinet, which could pass decrees without parliamentary scrutiny or the possibility of appeal to the constitutional court. Public officials continued to be dismissed or suspended by decree without due process, with more than 170,000 dismissed since July 2016. Those dismissed from their jobs lost their income, social benefits, medical insurance and even their homes.

Fatma Gormez, a former teacher who was removed from her job in the aftermath of a failed coup in Turkey on July 2016, now weighs only 29 kilograms due to a series of health problems, Fatma is calling for the release of her husband to enable her to continue living via a video message posted on her Twitter account.

Stockholm Center for Freedom reports that Berk Gormez, a 14 years old disabled son of that couple who were both purged, lost his life in January 2018. Berk`s father, Bekir Gormez was not permitted to visit him for the last 17 months despite of his and his mother`s severe health problems. During the funeral of Berk, Bekir Gormez was not allowed to take off his handcuffs.

Given the arbitrary detentions of thousands of people due to lack of rule of law in Turkey, hundreds of thousands of people, including family members, are being affected and exposed to severe human rights violations. Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, HDP MP, stated on Twitter through his personal account that the case of Fatma Gormez was submitted to Supreme Court requesting her husband`s release by the court pending trial.

We strongly urge the Turkish government to take the case of Fatma Gormez into consideration immediate effectively and release her husband on conditions of trial without arrest.

Walk for Purged Mothers in Turkey

On the Occasion of the Mother's Day

Today we are gathered here to be the voice of voiceless political prisoners of mothers in
Turkey alongside with their babies. The state of emergency and decree laws after the
failed coup attempt of July 2016 devastated the lives of tens of thousands families and
indeed women in Turkey. In recent years, Turkey has experienced a sharp declining
trend in almost all democratic indicators, including civil, political, economic and social
rights; freedom of expression and media. Violation of the rights of women have been
among these but the situation deteriorated substantially in the aftermath of the
attempted coup. There is now a pattern of grave and systematic abuses against women
and the number of women being detained, arrested unlawfully have reached 17,000.
Women who raise their voice as a critic are facing severe economic hardship, exclusion
and violence, humiliating and degrading treatment in places where they are deprived of
their liberty, including in health- care facilities, especially during pregnancy, childbirth
and the postpartum period. Tens of thousands of women, including housewives,
journalists, teachers, academics, health care professionals, business women, basically
women from all different backgrounds and professions have been detained in the
aftermath of the attempted coup.
Cases of discrimination and alleged ill-treatment range from arrest of pregnant women,
women in labor taken to custody, denial of medical services and detention of women
during the postpartum period. There are mothers being detained arbitrarily with their
babies everyday in Turkey.
Today, we are here on the occasion of the Mothers Day to call upon the authorities to
apply the rule of law and release the mothers following the execution of penalties and
security measures in the Turkish constitution and postpone the execution of penalties
for pregnant women or women with babies.

“Mothers away from Motherland” Panel Discussion

“Mothers Away from Motherland”, Motherʼs Day panel organized by “Set Them Free”and “Atlantic Institute”, had a spotlight on the current situation of Turkish women incarcerated in prisons in Turkey – many with their children – without indictments while embracing the stories of all mothers around the world who have had to find safety for their children away from their homelands.

Beside the three panelists from different communities a video call with a Turkish refugee mom in Greece took place within the event. She talked about her experiences and also about another refugee mom who passed away two weeks ago leaving three kids behind. Set Them Free Atlanta Coordinator Hafsa Girdap told the audience that they would dedicate the program to the memory of that young mom, Esma Uludag.


It was also moving to bring an InterPlay activity offered by Christine Nichols Gautreaux and Ruth Schowaltar at the end of the shared stories of the refugee mothers.

Sophia Pandya, the moderator of the panel, gave a presentation about the impact of political turmoils on women. She also drew attention to the fact that more women suffer in wars or in conflict zones than men do.

Here are some highlights from the panelists:

Karenina Campos from Peru: “If it wasnʼt for my mum we could not manage to succeed in a new life here.”

Saadia Mohamed Kelli from Syria:

“I did everything for my children to have good education here and this idea empowered me the most.” “I always said to my children not to get scared of these people here, and just to be nice.”

Zubeyde Katar from Turkey (about her children who are still in Turkey): “I miss them a lot.” “We are not terrorists, we have always done whatever we could for the sake of humanity.”

Birgul Koca (a Turkish refugee in Greece): “I am a mother and while struggling with the biggest challenges it was my children and most importantly my fate what has strengthened me the most!”

The program finished with a calligraphy performance by a refugee mother.

**“Emin Demiral, Set Them Free Atlanta Art Director, interviewing Sophia Pandya and Lee Dehihns”

What if you were in my shoes?

“What if You were in My Shoes?”

On April 14, 2018 Set Them Free organized a photo exhibition “What if You Were in My Shoes”, in Atlanta Central Library with the partnership with the Atlantic Institute. The exhibition, whose art director is Emin Demiral, aims to raise awareness on the tragic forced-migration stories from Turkey. More than 50 photos, of which the background stories are written by formerly detained women, are displayed along with an introductory video.

Hafsa Yildiz, Set Them Free Atlanta Coordinator, stated that “Besides the 9,700 women, who are arbitrarily detained, the current situation reveals a disturbing pattern of human rights abuses against innocent children in Turkey and abroad.” Yildiz also added that “Hundreds of women, allegedly linked to the failed coup attempt, suffer from disproportionate discrimination, in particular for the equal access to political participation, health, education, employment and justice, both in law and practice.” Ms. Yildiz ended her speech with a call to take an action for the most vulnerable victims of the aforesaid persecution.

Dr. Katy Reaves, a visitor to the exhibition, wrote “I would like to say something about a photo here which I will never forget. It was horrible. A woman just gives birth, she has a low blood pressure but the police ignores all these and takes her to the jail separating her from the baby. Could you imagine that? It is very tragic.”

The exhibition will take place in some other venues around Europe as well as the United States in the following days.