YAKA-KOOP, Van, Turkey – Protection against violence in the name of honour

„“Early forced marriage of girls is violence!“ Gülmay Gümüshan (fourth to the right), founder and leader of YAKA-KOOP. Photo: © YAKA-KOOP “Early forced marriage of girls is violence!“ Gülmay Gümüshan (fourth to the right), founder and leader of YAKA-KOOP. Photo: © YAKA-KOOP

Project area: City and province of Van, South Eastern Turkey

Supported by TDF since: 2014

Target group: Girls and women affected or threatened by early and forced marriage or other forms of violence in the name of honour


  • The city of Van has about 400.000 inhabitants, the majority of whom are Kurds. The society is strongly shaped by patriarchal structures and traditional norms of family and gender roles. The principle of honour is still very important.
  • In a 2013 survey of the Hürriyet Daily News, 34% of the questioned men said that domestic violence was acceptable under certain conditions.
  • Between 2010 and 2017, 1.964 women were killed. In 41% of the cases, the perpetrator was the husband. The website Anit Sayac is dedicated to the victims and their histories.
  • A femicide map by Turkish journalist Ceyda Ulukaya illustrates the shocking extent of gender-specific violence in Turkey: Between 2010 and 2018, more than 2.000 women were killed. 50 percent of those women were murdered by their own husband or boyfriend – often, because they had wanted a divorce or separation. Sadly, the number of femicides is only increasing: While 409 women were killed in 2017, 477 femicides were registered in 2018.
  • In the project region, about 42% of girls and women aged over 15 have experienced violence in their families (see Dr. Necla Kelek, Bittersüße Heimat, 2008, pp. 117).
  • The situation of girls and women is further weakened by educational disadvantages and rare job opportunities, as most work is in agriculture and women often work for their families without getting paid.
  • Forced marriage is a great issue in the project region: up to 42% of the girls in East and South East Anatolia are forced to marry at a very young age and drop out of school which makes it very difficult if not impossible to become financially independent from their future spouses.

Project activities:

YAKA-KOOP (S.S. Yasam Kadin Cevre Kültür ve isletme Kooperatifi, meaning „Empowerment of Women and Women’s Cooperative“) was the first non-governmental women’s organization to be founded in Van in 2002. Thanks to the continuous advocacy work of the 25 founding members, the organization gained the public’s trust. As a recognized expert in the field, YAKA-KOOP is also frequently consulted for gender-specific know-how by authorities such as educational and public health institutions.

  • Legal and psychological counselling for women: YAKA-KOOP runs a legal aid office, supporting women in cases of domestic and sexualized violence, honour crimes as well as early and forced marriage. Also, they provide psychological advice for women affected by these types of violence. 
  • Financial independence through vocational trainings: YAKA-KOOP offers literacy courses, as well as gastronomy, carpet weaving and sewing workshops. The participants are encouraged to sell their products on jointly organized markets, which provides them with an independent income source.
  • Sensitization and information campaigns: The NGO conducts public campaigns against early and forced marriage as well as gender-based violence. Within this context, they also collaborate with experts from different fields like doctors and lawyers. Therefore, YAKA-KOOP also goes to different villages and talks to important multipliers like elders and religious leaders. This way, the organization has reached out to 100 villages in the project region so far.
    Further awareness is raised by holding drawing competitions at schools and universities. Students draw pictures related to the topics of gender-based violence and child marriage. The best paintings are printed large-size and displayed at highly frequented places in Van.


  • Breaking the silence: YAKA-KOOP managed to put the issue of early marriage on the public agenda, capturing the media’s and the authorities’ attention with a wide-reaching campaign. YAKA-KOOP further earned people’s trust and has become an important contact point for the local population when it comes to gender-specific violence and especially early marriage.
  • Annually, YAKA-KOOP counsels 500 women and girls in need.
  • By providing educational counselling and vocational training programs, YAKA-KOOP initiates positive and sustainable change for about 400 girls and women a year and helps them to gain financial independence.
  • In 2018, about 350 girls and women took part in workshops on gender equality and prevention of violence or were reached through home visits.
  • In 2017, TDF organized an event series including a painting exhibition in Germany on early and forced marriage in Turkey and Germany which reached about 1.000 people. In this context, YAKA-KOOP’s work was presented as well. For a fee, the painting exhibition is still to be lent and shown by interested individuals or organizations within Germany. Please contact TDF in case you are interested: iz@frauenrechte.de
  • So far, more than 1.000 students participated in the annual drawing competitions and helped to raise awareness of child marriage and domestic violence.

Project leader: Gülmay Gümüshan

Contacts: Voluntary project coordinators Dr. Necla Kelek and Dilek Okur(tuerkei@frauenrechte.de)
or TERRE DES FEMMES – department for International Cooperation (iz@frauenrechte.de)


Your support is needed for YAKA-KOOP to:

  • Continue to provide legal and psychological counselling as well as legal representation for women.
  • Expand educational offers and income generating activities.
  • Conduct information and sensitization campaigns on women’s rights, protection from violence, health and sexuality.
  • Organize events, workshops and home visits on early and forced marriage and violence in the name of honour.

Support YAKA-KOOP with a one-time donation or contribute regularly and become a sponsor

You can also donate to the following account, using the keyword “Turkey” as a reference for your payment:

IBAN DE35 8309 4495 0103 1160 00