EWL News

EWL meets with Turkish activist Pinar Selek in Strasbourg

[Strasbourg, 21 November 2012] During an advocacy trip to Strasbourg, EWL Policy Officer Pierrette Pape met with Turkish human rights defender Pinar Selek, who is now staying in the Alsatian city while her case is still being dealt with by the Turkish justice in Istanbul. 14 years ago, Pinar Selek was arrested and convicted by the Turkish authorities, on the ground of terrorism, for the explosion of the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul. This accusation was proven to be wrong by six expert reports and declared as a gas leak. In June 2010, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) voted unanimously on an emergency motion calling for support for Pinar Selek.

In Strasbourg, Pinar Selek encountered broad support from the city and its civil society, which organised a demonstration on March 2012.

Ms. Selek is still involved in women’s rights, and in particular on the issue of prostitution. She has worked a lot in Turkey with women and transgender persons affected by prostitution, and published a book about the issue in 2011. In Strasbourg, Ms. Selek is closely following the activities of the French NGO Mouvement du Nid. EWL Policy Officer Pierrette Pape informed her about the work of the European Women’s Lobby at European level, and especially about EWL’s campaign ‘Together for a Europe free from prostitution’. They discussed the current situation in Europe and various countries, and possible ways forward for Turkey. They shared the same concerns about the need for strong policies supporting persons affected by prostitution, offering alternatives and concrete assistance. Talking about the Swedish approach to prostitution, they stressed on the need for effective prevention and education, based on human rights values such as equality between women and men. Wherever the policy proposal to criminalise the purchase of sex is put forward, it should be part of a comprehensive policy framework comprising awareness raising measures, social services and support to NGOs supporting persons affected by prostitution, and clear stances against all forms of procuring and trafficking.

A new hearing is to be held on 22 November in order to complete the procedural deficiencies in the court cases that have now been combined with the Spice Bazaar case, from which sociologist-writer P?nar Selek has already been acquitted three times. The Strasbourg supporters organise a demonstration on the very day to support her.

To find out more about Pinar Selek, visit her website in English, and in French.

Article in French: Pinar Selek : exilée à Strasbourg, jugée à Istanbul, March 2012

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