Nearly 30,000 women residing in shelters are estimated to have skipped voting in Turkey's local elections over security concerns, an expert said Saturday.
The president of Istanbul Bar Association's women's rights center Şükran Eroğlu told Demirören News Agency (DHA) that the women placed under temporary protection in shelters, mainly over domestic violence, are believed to have refrained from voting on March 31 fearing that their addresses could be revealed through the website of the election watchdog Supreme Election Council (YSK) or they could face security problems at their registered polling stations.
Reminding that the right to vote and the right to stand in elections are enshrined in the constitution, Eroğlu said that it is upsetting that the women could not use this right due to security concerns. She noted that there are 30,688 women residing in 144 women's shelters throughout Turkey, including some 12-13,000 in Istanbul, with the number of people living in shelters adding up to more than 53,000 with the inclusion of their children. The women usually spend three months in shelters and this period could be extended for another three months, she explained.
In addition to providing concrete security measures in polling stations, Eroğlu said that the issue could also be resolved through mobile ballot boxes. "When we last met with the Violence Prevention and Monitoring Center [of the Family, Labor and Social Services Ministry], they have told us that some precautions will be taken over this matter and votes will be cast through mobile ballot boxes but I assume they couldn't provide this in this election," she said.
Eroğlu noted that although there is not a concrete statistics data available on this issue, they believe that almost all women living in shelters refrained from voting since they already live there due to serious security fears, concerns and dangers; and it is risky for them to go and vote in their native polling station. "That's why different measures need to be taken," she said.
Women who apply for the "identity blackout" over serious death threats and have their identity information changed by court orders largely face no problems in voting processes, Eroğlu added.