Turkey is an unequal society in many ways.
Income levels are far below those in Western Europe. The
differences are also large within the country.
Nearly one million Kurdish villagers were expelled
from their homes in the southeast during the civil war
of 1984-1999. Even more have left southeast Turkey on
their own initiative. In the autumn of 2012, the Council
of Europe estimated that Turkey was the European country
with the most internal refugees, about one million
people. Most had been driven away by the fighting in the
southeast. In addition, refugees from other parts of the
Syrian civil war have reached 3.6 million people,
according to official estimates from the end of 2018.
Countryaah Official Site:
Official statistics for population in Turkey, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
The social security system is financed by employers
'and employees' premiums and applies only to those who
have a formal employment. The system includes pensions,
compensation for work injuries, sickness pension,
unemployment insurance (introduced in 1999) and
maternity benefit. The average time for maternity leave
from work in Turkish companies was stated at the
beginning of 2010 to be 16 weeks. In 2016, new laws were
passed on increased child allowance and the right to
unpaid leave after ordinary maternity leave, as well as
for both parents' right to work part-time until the
child starts compulsory pre-school.
All employees are legally entitled to paid leave for
between 14 and 26 days, depending on how long they have
The state is responsible for most of the health care,
but in the countryside it is inadequate. In eastern
Turkey, there is a shortage of doctors and hospitals.
A bill that would have practically made it impossible
to have abortions was withdrawn by the government in
2012 following protests from women's organizations.
According to the proposal, abortions should have been
banned after the sixth week of pregnancy, instead of the
tenth week according to current law. As early as the
sixth week, not all women are aware that they are
pregnant. There are reports that state hospitals have
refused to perform abortions despite the law.
Authorities' attitudes toward aborting pregnancies seem
to have hardened, as President Erdoğan has increasingly
described abortion as a murder and urged all women to
give birth to at least three children.
The retirement age has been the subject of political
strife since a populist government in 1991 radically
lowered it. In 1999, Bülent Ecevit's coalition
government tried to raise the retirement age again, with
stiff opposition from the unions, and in 2005 Erdoğan
warned of growing underfunding of the social insurance
system, which was also said to be complicated and
ineffective. Yet in 2006, the average retirement age was
only 47, which meant that most "pensioners" continued to
work, with the pension as a tax-financed supplement to
the salary. However, that year, with the support of the
International Monetary Fund (IMF), a new social
insurance law was adopted that established a gradual
increase in retirement age until 2048. In 2014, the
average retirement age was stated to vary between 58 and
Polygamy is prohibited. However, men can circumvent
the ban and marry a second wife with a purely religious
marriage act, whereby marriage is not officially
registered. A new family law in 2002 raised the lowest
marriage age from 17 years for men and 15 for women to
18 years for both genders. However, with the permission
of the parents, a person can get married at the age of
16. Civil law also allows a court to approve marriages
even before the age of 16 in "extraordinary cases and
for very special reasons," which in most cases means
that parents can force a young daughter to marry a man
who raped her.
The Constitutional Court arose when it decided in
2016 to review a law on sexual abuse of children because
it did not make a difference between whether an adult
had sex with a 14-year-old or a 4-year-old. The court
argued that if a 14-year-old girl voluntarily had sex
with her 16-year-old boyfriend, it must be handled in a
completely different way than if an adult abuses a small
child. The decision was interpreted in many ways as
allowing sex with children.
One expression of family cohesion in the Southeast is
that they often marry within the family. In feudal
villages, the chastity of women is seen as a measure of
the "honor" of the family. With the relocation from the
rural area in the south-east, so-called honor killings
now also occur in major cities in western Turkey. There,
girls from traditional families are exposed to special
risks when they receive better schooling than their
parents and more contact with modern life. Experts
believe that hundreds of honor killings are committed
annually, many of which are claimed to be accidents. In
2004, laws abolishing punitive relief for murder were
abolished if the purpose was to protect the family's
honor. Subsequently, a sharp rise in the number of
"suicides" was observed among young women in the
In some parts of Turkey, mainly in the southeast,
there is still blood revenge in connection with family
Homosexuality is not prohibited, unlike it is in some
other countries in the Muslim world. The military,
however, rejects homosexuals, but at the same time
demands that recruits prove that they are "sick" to be
exempt from military service. Same-sex marriage or
partnership is not recognized.
In Istanbul there are then old gay bars, gay clubs
and other meeting places for LGBTQ people. Gender change
operations are allowed, and one of Turkey's most popular
entertainment artists, singer Bülent Ersoy, was, as the
first name shows, from the beginning of male sex. Less
well-known transgender people find it more difficult,
excluded from the normal labor market and rarely end up
in prostitution. Violence against homosexuals and LGBT
Turkey is a host country for human trafficking, with
many prostitutes from Russia, Ukraine and other
countries of the former Soviet Union.
Through Turkey, the main routes for drug transport
from Afghanistan, Iran and Southeast Asia go to Europe.
Turkish customs and police are fighting drug trafficking
in close cooperation with European and US authorities.
More serious houses are being razed in Istanbul's
15-million-year-old city in recent years, testifying to
overcrowding and black building, sometimes extensions on
several floors that are not discovered or trampled by
the authorities. The fact that the authorities in 2018
issued a temporary amnesty for, for example, extensions
without building permits, which were subsequently
approved by a "fast track", has led to criticism from
FACTS - SOCIAL CONDITIONS
9 per 1000 births (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean
98.9 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to
97.3 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a
percentage of GDP
4.1 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person
US $ 469 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament
17 percent (2018)
Dialogue with PKK is confirmed
A government spokesman confirms that the security service is having a
dialogue with incarcerated PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan about getting the
guerrillas to lay down their weapons.
NATO approves robots along the Syrian border
NATO gives the go-ahead to deploy Patriot robots along Turkey's border with
Syria. The robots will protect Turkey from any Syrian regime attacks. NATO
emphasizes that the deployment takes place solely for the purpose of defense.
UN criticism of anti-terror law
The UN Human Rights Committee says that the anti-terror law of 1991 used by
Turkey to arrest political activists, lawyers and journalists is so vague and
unclear that it does not meet international law's demands for legal security on
Tough EU criticism of Turkey
Turkey receives harsh criticism in the EU's annual report for major
deficiencies in freedom of speech and assembly, long detention times and lengthy
legal processes, as well as the continued absence of a political solution to the
Hundreds of soldiers are imprisoned
331 retired or active military men are sentenced to long prison sentences for
involvement in "Operation Slaughter", alleged plans to overthrow the government
in 2003 by provoking a military coup (see January 2010). Three former generals
are sentenced to 20 years in prison and several other high-ranking soldiers to
16-18 years. Most are sentenced to 13 years. Only 34 defendants are acquitted.
Army offensive against PKK in the southeast
According to the governor of the southeastern province of Hakkâri, the army
has killed 75 members of the PKK during a week-long offensive in areas near the
border with Iraq and Syria. Four army soldiers are said to have been killed.
Oil imports from Iraqi Kurdistan
Turkey is starting to import crude oil directly from the autonomous Kurdish
region of northern Iraq. The Baghdad government describes trade as illegal and
says it can damage relations between the countries.
Trial against 295 Kurds
In Istanbul, a lawsuit is launched against 205 people accused of membership
in the Kurdistan Community Union (KCK), an umbrella organization that is
considered to be banned from the PKK. Among the defendants is the well-known
publicist Ragıp Zarakolu. The defendants risk long prison sentences for
conspiring with terrorists.
Syria shoots down Turkish plane
The already tense relations with Syria are further deteriorated when a
Turkish fighter plane is shot down by Syrian air defense. Turkey claims that the
plane was in international airspace when it was shot down and receives strong
diplomatic support from both NATO and the EU. Prime Minister Erdoğan describes
the shootout as a hostile act and the Turkish army strengthens its surveillance
of the border with Syria.
Leading Kurdish politicians are imprisoned
Kurdish politician Leyla Zana is sentenced to ten years in prison for
expressing herself in a series of public speeches four years earlier in a way
that the Diyarbakır court interpreted as failing to regard the PKK as a
terrorist organization and recognizing the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan
as Kurdish people's leader. She had previously been convicted of the same
statements, but that ruling was rejected by the Supreme Court of Appeal on the
ground that she was not given sufficient opportunities to defend herself.
Try to speed up EU negotiations
In the middle of the month, Turkey and the EU make a formal attempt to
revitalize Turkey's accession to the Union. The negotiations have basically been
down for a couple of years, but now Turkey and the European Commission will form
eight working groups, each responsible for their specific chapter on the terms
of entry. Through these groups, Turkey will receive active support for faster
adaptation to the EU acquis. According to the EU, the working groups should be
seen as a complement to the formal membership negotiations.
Attempts are made to write a new constitution
After six months of preparation, a parliamentary commission begins the
concrete work of writing a new constitution, the first in the history of the
Turkish republic which is not created by military directives. All four parties
represented in Parliament participate in the process.
Former ÖB in court
Former commander-in-chief General Ilker Başbuğ is facing trial for
interference in an attempt to oust the AKP government.