Turkish parliament OKs board to protect equality

ZÜBEYDE YALÇIN
ISTANBUL
Published 11.04.2016 00:13

Parliament approved a law last week which will establish a state body to protect equality. Parliament Human Rights Commission Deputy Chair Fatma Benli said the board will assess workplace discrimination complaints based on gender – including workplace mobbing, landlord discrimination against tenants – and the process will be much shorter than similar complaints handled by courts.

Benli described the Human Rights and Equality Board as a significant achievement for Turkey and promised that it would be free. Benli said citizens will be notified on how to apply and the purview of the new body, adding, "This will provide fast, free and effective solutions to all complaints pertaining to violations of equality. All applications will be assessed and decided within three months. The legal route is expensive and long. Moreover, court decisions on violations of equality covered only a narrow list of grievances."

Benli noted a recent increase in the number of complaints involving mobbing at work. "People who believe they face mobbing can quickly get results. Anyone can apply who believes that they are being discriminated against when they are applying for a job, ordering at a restaurant or trying to rent an apartment, due to their gender, ethnicity, age or disability."

She admitted that legal structures made it hard to prove discrimination. "According to our legal system, those who file a discrimination complaint are obligated to prove it. The legal basis of this new body allows, under certain conditions, not the complainant but the suspected offender to prove that they are innocent."

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