The project ‘Where is the Support System?’ supported by the Consulate General of Sweden-Istanbul aims to answer the questions that survivors of sexual violence ask, such as “I’ve been exposed to sexual violence, what should I do now? Where or whom can I get support or services from? Where and how can I apply to? “.
In the scope of this project a web site will be created which includes the service map of the institutions responding to sexual violence applications in Istanbul as well as the information on the application procedure and guidelines for healing with a strengthening approach after the violence case. The primary aim of the project is to make it easier for the survivors of sexual violence to get access to the services and support which are their rights. It is intended that sexual violence institutions and services to be separated from the other institutions responding to the applications covering all types of violence, and in some cases, several different needs and to be more visible and easily accessible.
Sexual violence is a matter that deeply affects our wellbeing both at the individual and social scale and supporting to the survivors of this sort of violence is a very essential need. After sexual violence incidents, the public discusses and focuses mostly on the ‘punishment to the perpetrator’. However, the solution of many problems such as the prevention of impunity in sexual violence offenses is only achieved through encouraging people inflicted to violence to declare violence without being blamed and embarrassed, and enabling them to apply to existing mechanisms, to gain access to the services and support they are entitled to, and to fight for a system that can meet the needs with a rights-based focus.
In Turkey there is no specialized institution meeting the needs of the ones exposed to sexual violence such as Rape Crisis Center, Sexual Violence Counseling Center, or Sexual Violence Emergency Reference Hot Line. In fact, the extent and quality of support services provided for sexual violence survivors in existing institutions is not completely known. Further, a lack of protective-preventive approach and inaccurate knowledge among professional specialists and service providers is encountered. There can be also various violations of rights such as confidentiality violation, secondary trauma risk and incomplete reporting by ignoring the conditions such as the perception of sexual violence in society, male-dominated understanding, rape culture, victim-blaming and stigmatization.
Under these conditions, people must find where and how they can apply to by themselves and with their own means. As a matter of fact, as the survivors of sexual violence, if we don’t have the support around us and in the society we live, we must carry out this searching process secretly. During search of supportafter a sexual violence attack we experience, we can only obtain incoherent or insufficient information from different sources. Indeed, the information we get cannot match the practices we experience most of the time. If we have different circumstances, identities/statuses or needs (for example, disability, refugee, foreigner, LGBTI +, child, student, prisoners, etc.) we cannot find specialized institutions that can help us further in our circumstances.
Project Coordination, research and reporting: Hilal Esmer, Merve Karabulut
Web site and map design and application: Yakup Çetinkaya, Natali Arslan
Design Team: CSMD Volunteers
Project Consultants: Association of Forensic Experts Gender Equality Group, Bilgi University Unit for the Prevention of Sexual Harassment and Assault, Seda Akço Bilen- Humanist Bureau, Mor Çatı Women’s Shelter Foundation.
* The opinions that have been expressed above, reflect the views only of the Association for Struggle Against Sexual Violence. Therefore, the Consulate General of Sweden-İstanbul cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
This post is also available in: Turkish