Gender-based violence (GBV) is violence committed against a person because of his or her sex or gender. It is forcing another person to do something against his or her will through violence, coercion, threats, deception, cultural expectations, or economic means. Although the majority of survivors of GBV are girls and women, LGBTIQ+, boys and men can also be targeted through GBV.

Forms of gender-based violence

There are several forms that gender-based violence can take:

Sexual violence is any act, attempted or threatened, that is sexual in nature and carried out without the consent of the victim. Sexual violence includes rape, sexual abuse and harassment, exploitation, and forced prostitution. It can happen within marriages, especially when there is a lack of consent for sexual activity by one of the spouses.

Any sexual activity with a child (any person who has not yet completed 18 years of age) constitutes sexual violence. It has devastating effects on the development of the child involved, as well as on his or her physical and mental health.Physical violence such as beating, punching, maiming and killing (with or without weapons) is often combined with non-violent forms of GBV, including emotional and psychological violence.

Emotional or psychological violence is non-sexual, verbal abuse that is insulting and degrading to the survivor. This can include isolating a person from his or her friends and family, and restricting the person’s freedom of movement

 Socio-economic violence, which excludes a person from participating in society. This includes the denial of access of the person to health services, education and work, and the denial of his or her civil, social, economic, cultural and political rights.

 Domestic violence is any physical, sexual, psychological, verbal and economic violence between one person and another within the family. It may be committed by family members and/or people considered as family members, whether or not they live in the same household.

 Harmful practices include female circumcision, honour killings, polygamous marriages (marriages to more than one person), marriage of a child (any person who has not yet completed 18 years of age) and forced marriage (any marriage imposed against the will of a person or through being left with no other choice than marriage).

  • Child marriage: According to the Turkish Penal Code, the legal age of marriage is 18. Refugees wishing to marry in Türkiye are subject to Turkish law and procedures. Religious marriages are not recognized in Türkiye, and unofficial marriage with a child (any person who has not yet completed 18 years of age) is illegal, considered a crime and is punishable under the Turkish Penal Code.
  • Polygamous marriage: As with child marriage, marriage to more than one person (polygamy) is illegal and punishable in Türkiye.

All forms of sexual and gender-based violence, including domestic violence, forced marriage and child marriage, violate fundamental human rights and are punishable under the Turkish Penal Code.