SHCEK has established domestic violence awareness programs in schools, universities, and community centers, and the personnel at Izmir's SHCEK have targeted particular neighborhoods -especially neighborhoods whose residents tend to be poor and uneducated- and established a variety of education program for women, including educational seminars on women's legal rights (see below).
Following Turkish law, the provincial branch of SHCEK is responsible for establishing and running the shelters, and all guests in the shelters are processed through SHCEK.
I also spoke with the general director of Izmir SHCEK and got his perspectives on the situation, and I talked at length with several private citizens involved in providing material support for the shelters in Izmir province.
The situation in Izmir highlights problems that the Izmir SHCEK personnel indicated were nationwide problems in Turkey.
Even with such relatively strong support from the Izmir SHCEK, there is simply not enough money to provide for needs beyond basic operations, needs such as clothes, expansion, replacement furniture, and educational programs.
The private citizen had given a substantial donation to the shelter for the renovations, but he could only pay for basic construction (walls and a roof), and the Izmir SHCEK was still looking for someone to provide funds to finish the construction.
Only two SHCEK personnel deal with women's issues and domestic violence in all of Izmir province (2006 population: 3,700,000).
Birsen, the Izmir SHCEK psychologist, was advocating for the establishment for a long-term women's dormitory that would provide some education and support services, but nothing of the sort exists as of this writing.
Article 8 of the SHCEK regulations (Resmi Gazete Sayisi: 24396, 2001) states that the shelters may accept women who have left home for any sort of misunderstanding or who are escaping violence; women who are left destitute by divorce or widowhood; women who are escaping a forced marriage, or women who are being threatened for having a child out of wedlock, women who are overcoming addiction, and women newly released from prison.
Ummuhan accepted such women and children who had no other alternatives, but some shelters turned such women and families away since the SHCEK shelter regulations did not make room for political refugees.
This reliance on the largesse of the local decision-making puts many shelter directors in uncomfortable situations: 1) either they can accept all those who need help, even if the women do not fit the criteria of the SHCEK regulations, with the knowledge that some victims of domestic violence will not be able to find space in the shelters; or 2) they can exclude these women with problems not covered by the SHCEK shelter regulations and abandon them to the street in order to leave room in the shelters for those women who are battered.
While the state institutional response to domestic violence in the shelter context is definitely inadequate, other programs established by SHCEK seem more promising.