CAIRO - Struggling to curb domestic violence, Turkey has established a new special female police force in Istanbul to protect women against prevailing gender-based violence, Todays Zaman reported.The first criterion for joining the team is that it must be voluntary because this work is not something to be done by force, Homicide Bureau Chief Fahrettin Gonbe said.
People who are sensitive to and aware of the issue of domestic violence were selected.The team was launched by a 100-member force which females make up half of its number.
They have recently completed a 15-day training course on gender relations, inequality and how to properly and sensitively handle cases of gender-based violence.
Each district in Istanbul has been assigned at least two of these specially trained officers.
The specialized force was established to curb increasing violence against women in Turkey's largest city.
Acknowledging the important role of police, Gonbe added that they alone cannot put a stop to violence against women in Turkey.
Despite government and NGO effort, Turkey has seen a surge in anti-women violence.More than 40 percent of women in Turkey have suffered from violence at some point in their lives.
According to police records, Gonbe said 121 women were killed in the last three years in Ä°stanbul alone.
Ä°stanbul witnessed 2,754 incidents of domestic assault in that same time period.
Starting with a small pilot force, Istanbul Police Department is planning to have all police officers trained on how to properly handle cases of gender-based violence.
There won't be any police officers who aren't knowledgeable on violence against women in Istanbul, Gonbe, Homicide Bureau Chief, said.
Eventually, even a traffic cop will be able to handle cases on this issue."
But some experts cast doubts on the effectiveness of the police force in tackling domestic violence.
Dr. Metin Feyzioglu, the head of the Ankara Bar Association, said the majority of victims avoid official records, citing that only 8 percent of victims of gender-based violence contact police and other official institutions, according to statistics issued by the Turkish Statistics Institute (TurkStat).
Feyzioglu said victims would rather speak with representatives of civil society organizations and other unofficial groups, not police officers and other officials.
He said that a project has been established in April 2011 to address the issue.
As part of the project, victims can call a hotline and speak with a lawyer about what they should do after being subjected to violence.
The hotline has received around 9,500 calls since it was set up last year, Feyzioglu said.