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

„“Early forced marriage of girls is violence!“ Gülmay Gümüshan (vierte v.r.), founder and leader of YAKA-KOOP. Photo: © Dr. Necla Kelek“Early forced marriage of girls is violence!“ Gülmay Gümüshan (vierte v.r.), founder and leader of YAKA-KOOP.
Photo: © Dr. Necla Kelek

Project area: City and province of Van, 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

Background:

  • The city of Van has about 400.000 inhabitants, the majority Kurds.
  • The society is strongly shaped by patriarchal structures and traditional norms of family and gender roles. The principle of honour still is very important.
  • In the 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.
  • Forced marriage is a great issue in the region: girls are forced to marry at a very young age and drop out of education which makes it difficult if not impossible to be financially independent from their future spouses. 
  • Between 2010 and 2015, the Turkish women’s rights organization “We will stop Femicides” counted 1.134 femicides in the country. The website Anit Sayac is dedicated to the victims and their histories.

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 confidence of the public. As recognised 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 advice for women: YAKA-KOOP runs a legal aid office, supporting women in cases of domestic and sexualized violence, honour crimes and early and forced marriage, as well as providing psychological advice. 
  • Financial independence through vocational trainings: YAKA-KOOP offers literacy courses, as well as hairdressing, 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 and gender-based violence, among others, in collaboration with experts from different sectors like doctors and lawyers. This way, in 2016, the organization has reached out to 78 villages in the region.

Impact:

  • Breaking the silence: YAKA-KOOP managed to bring the issue of early marriage on to the public agenda, capturing the media’s and the authorities’ attention with a wide-reaching campaign.  
  • In 2016, 120 women participated in the vocational training programs and more than 600 girls and women took part in workshops on gender equality and prevention of violence.
  • In 2017, TDF organized an event series in Germany on early and forced marriage in Turkey and Germany, presenting also the work of YAKA-KOOP. 1.000 persons were reached

Project leader: Gülmay Gümüshan

Contacts: Voluntary project coordinators Dr. Necla Kelek and Şermin Güven (tuerkei@frauenrechte.de)
or TERRE DES FEMMES – section international cooperation (iz@frauenrechte.de)

Support:

For YAKA-KOOP to keep up their important work in the region of Van, your support is needed to:

  • continue providing legal and psychological advice and support for women.
  • expand educational offers and income generating activities.
  • purchase textile production equipment.
  • 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:

TERRE DES FEMMES e.V.
EthikBank
IBAN DE35 8309 4495 0103 1160 00
BIC GENODEF1ETK