Volume 37 Number 5
Published: October 1, 2006
Control of women’s sexuality is the root cause of many women’s human rights violations, such as ‘honour’ crimes, early and forced marriages and female genital mutilation. The Turkish organisation, Women for Women’s Human Rights (WWHR) – New Ways, contests this control of women’s sexuality, taking an affirmative approach to sexuality to open up space for women to claim their rights. In 2004, WWHR led a campaign for reform of the Turkish penal code which resulted in over 30 amendments on sexual and bodily rights of women and girls in Turkey, including criminalisation of marital rape and removal of a provision granting sentence reductions for ‘honour’ killings. They have also run human rights trainings for over 4,500 women throughout Turkey which include a module on sexual rights promoting the idea that women have a right to sexual pleasure. Participants have reacted very positively to this module and found the discussions empowering.