ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
A new comprehensive report on violence in Istanbul, which looked at the sociological causes of crime, has been long awaited in Europe's third largest city, where three out of four residents do not feel safe and one out of five have been subject to violence.
The Istanbul Chamber of Commerce, or İTO, held a press conference yesterday presenting its new report �Violence in Istanbul and the sociological background of the violence.� The research collects comprehensive data on the lifestyles of a total of 2,150 individuals from three main groups: local residents, inmates and �street children.�
�What we are doing is not something new. America has had such studies for nearly 20 years, Europe for last 10, and the fact that it hasn't been done in Turkey before is a serious deficiency,� said Dr. Sevil Atasoy of the Istanbul University's Forensic Medicine Institute
But one researcher told the Turkish Daily News that such studies had been done before but never with such depth. Smaller organizations and NGOs had collected data but never of such a large and widespread study group, and any organization that had such data kept it to itself.
�We are a merchant organization, and we need crime and violence to be at a minimum so our members can trade properly, so that Istanbul can be a trade city, a culture city,� İTO executive board member Erhan Erken told the TDN, adding, �We are working with the governor's office, the police, local districts and institutions hoping we can all benefit from this research and some can provide education, some security, some culture, some help with the families.�
The report emphasizes that Istanbul is far behind comparable cities in the West regarding violent crime and that crime has been decreasing significantly over the past two years. However, a combination of urban migration and accompanying poor urbanization, a growing income disparity and insufficient police coverage still result in significant violent crime. In fact, 93.4 percent of Istanbul resident's feel that there is significant violence in Istanbul.
Some striking findings from the surveys of residents include that, at 51.4 percent, the majority of violent crime occurs within the family, that the majority of inmates did not see current penalties as being enough of a deterrent and that the street kids questioned all shared the common quality of escaping to the streets due to a broken home at the pressure of a step-parent.
The study points out that one of the main problems rests in the family. "The difference between those with family problems and those without is astronomical," said M. Tevfik Göksu, the project coordinator for the GENAR Research Education Consulting, who also conducted the research. "We need to ensure the family doesn't fall to popular culture.�
The chamber is not about to do nothing, however. It plans to also provide support for some projects that will be based off of the report. There is already talk of a pilot project that will be tested on a district to see whether it prevents crime. �The board has already theoretically agreed to support this project and we should soon be able to practically offer support as well,� Erken told the TDN, adding, �And we will also provide support by way of incentives for projects that are put out by the office of the governor as well.�