A new safe space for women opens its doors in Istanbul
The Women’s Solidarity Foundation (KADAV) opened the First Step Station, a safe space for women who are at risk of or exposed to violence to get away from perpetrators for a period of 72 hours. Opened in the Şişli area of Istanbul, the centre aims to provide a temporary safe space for women and their children who do not have immediate access to a shelter or protective services.
The project is implemented with the support of the Şişli Municipality within the “Strong Civic Space for Gender Equality” project implemented by UN Women and funded by the European Union.
“As placement in shelters can be a challenging process, women may not be able to access and enjoy their rights if they are not guided with the right information,” says Özgür Genç, Project Coordinator at KADAV. “The First Step Station is offering a temporary space for women who are in the process of applying to shelters or seeking support for protection. We are very proud that such a center has been opened for the first time by a civil society with the support of a municipality. We hope that this station will become an example for other civil society organizations and municipalities.”
The First Step Station aims to support women to take more concrete steps by informing them about their rights to access shelters and their legal rights. It aims to ensure that women can stay at a friendly and safe space instead of on the streets or at police stations while seeking protection. The centre provides counselling, as well as psychological and legal support to women who are subjected to violence before settling in a shelter.
“The First Step Station is a safe space for women who are victims of violence. We built this space with women who live in our district,” says Öznur Sarıahmetoğlu, Manager of Social Services Support at the Şişli Municipality. “They donated every single piece of furniture. Together with the women of Şişli, we created this space for women who would like to escape from violence, be willing to determine their own destiny and take a break before they take the next steps for their future.”
Zeliha Ünaldı, Deputy Country Director of UN Women Türkiye, adds that the First Step Station is a pioneering project that offers a temporary safe space for women who seek protection in cases of violence. “With the involvement of the Şişli Municipality, it is a project in which many different stakeholders joined forces. We will continue to cooperate with civil society organizations, women’s organizations and networks working on violence against women and women’s rights within our Strong Civic Space for Gender Equality project.”