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Turkey’s panic button project ‘fails’ to save battered women

When the button is pressed, the location is transferred to the police through GPS technology

Published: Updated:

Turkey’s pilot “panic button” project which aimed to curb violence against women has largely failed to achieve results, the Turkish Security General Directorate stated in a report this week.

The report, which was presented to the parliamentary commission, stated one example: “A woman in Bursa was wounded with a knife by her husband, despite the fact that she had pushed the panic button, because her location was not spotted on the map.”

The country’s Women’s Status General Directorate has in the past also told the commission that the system, piloted in 2012, is inefficient, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

“The security button is used when the victim faces a dangerous situation but the efficiency of the security button practice is very low. The period of time from when the victim pushes the button until the police intervene in the incident is proof of that risk,” said the Security General Directorate.

In October, Family and Social Policies Minister Ayşenur İslam stated that the system had failed to reduce violence against women.

“Electronic surveillance of the perpetrator, rather than of the victim, is a much better system. There is already a system for that in Turkey, a probation service under which the perpetrator is monitored and kept away from the victim. We want the same system to be applied in cases of violence against women,” he said.

The project was initiated in several areas in the southern province of Adana and the northwestern province of Bursa in mid-2012, according to Hurriyet Daily News.

When the button is pressed, the location is transferred to the police through GPS technology, utilizing a private GSM operator SIM Card.

She says she has reason to be afraid. Last year, 13 women in Turkey were murdered by their partners whilst nominally under state protection, according to official figures.

Turkey, which aspires to join the European Union, has drafted new legislation to try to bring women's rights in line with European standards. A law sent to parliament just last month will toughen sentencing for sexual assault.

According to government figures, the number of shelters for battered women has nearly doubled to 92 from 48 in 2011.

However, activists note new legislation means only communities with more than 100,000 inhabitants are required to have a shelter, instead of half that figure previously, and many municipalities don't provide the service, blaming a lack of funding.

(With Reuters)