SHOWING AT-RISK WOMEN IN TÜRKIYE THEIR TRUE WORTH
As Turkish society continues to be shocked by high numbers of femicides, SAT-7 is reaching out to vulnerable women with a simple message: you are not alone. A second series of a powerful program offering support to them has launched, one year on from Türkiye’s troubling withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention.
“The existence of ministries like SAT-7 in this country gives us confidence and makes us feel that we are not alone,” a woman in Turkey tells SAT-7, keeping her name anonymous. A fellow viewer said to us, “As a Christian woman in our society, sometimes one feels stuck. SAT-7 TÜRK helps me overcome the feeling of being alone.”
These words reflect the impact of programs for women on SAT-7 TÜRK, including You Are Not Alone, which has been designed specifically to provide expert support at difficult times. Recently, presenter Hale Gencel addressed viewers enduring difficult home lives.
“Even in the most extreme situations, we have the power not to accept them and lose hope. We should take a hard look at the reality of our situations and consider asking for help from a counsellor. Any change will have to begin with ourselves,” she says. This episode was watched by 36,000 people on Facebook alone, in addition to countless more people watching on satellite.
You Are Not Alone began during the pandemic to provide advice from experts on a number of personal struggles that many people in Türkiye faced in 2020, in particular the increased threat of domestic violence. “The pandemic magnified what was already there,” Hale explains off-air. “Gender-based violence increased, and household conflicts became more frequent. Women felt less safe at home.”
Unlike some other social problems magnified by the pandemic, femicide remains an extremely pressing problem in Türkiye. Around 200 women have been murdered so far this year. To make matters worse, on 1 July 2021 Türkiye withdrew from the Istanbul Convention via a presidential decree. This European Council treaty commits its signatories to protecting women against all forms of violence and eliminating all forms of discrimination against women. Türkiye’s withdrawal, which the authorities attributed to the convention’s incompatibility with Turkish culture, has been seen by the international community as a step backward in protecting vulnerable women.
SAT-7 believes that both women and men are made in the image of God and therefore are equally deserving of life and of freedom from violence and discrimination. “As a Christian channel, SAT-7 TÜRK cannot be silent on the issue of women’s right to life,” says Nicole Thoma, Development Officer for SAT-7 TÜRK and for women’s programming across SAT-7’s language bases. She explains that recent research by Human Rights Watch shows that even when women are able to obtain restraining orders against abusive partners or ex-partners, the failure to actually enforce them when women are under threat leaves them in danger.
“SAT-7 TÜRK will continue to take a proactive stance on this issue, including by broadcasting a second season of the live weekly program You Are Not Alone,” Nicole continues.
During the program, presenter Hale, who is a sociologist and art therapist, discusses issues affecting women’s private and public lives with experts in various disciplines, including psychologists, therapists, sociologists, and many more. Past episodes of the program, which are available on the streaming service SAT-7 PLUS, offer legal advice and share details of organisations that can help. The new season continues to advocate for women’s safety and helps viewers from a sociological point of view, emphasising how women can recognise and work to overturn the effects of discrimination on their mental and spiritual health.
“Please pray that the program will be watched by the Turkish-speaking women who most need to hear its messages,” says Nicole. “Pray that God will guide them to know their true worth, their worth that comes from Him. Pray also that men watching, who are our vital partners in this work, will be moved by the messages too.”
 Özlem Altan-Olcay, “Making and unmaking culture: gender experts, faith, and the international governance of gender” , International Feminist Journal of Politics, 24(2), 286-309.
 “Turkiye Fails Domestic Violence Victims: Urgent Action Needed to Enforce Protective Measures, Ensure Accountability.” Retrieved from: https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/05/26/Turkiye-fails-domestic-violence-victims.