Pinar Ilkkaracan, a psychotherapist, human rights activist and researcher, is in private practice in Istanbul, Turkey and the international program director of WWHR. She grew up in a middle-class family in Turkey, was encouraged to travel, learn languages, and become a professor. However, like many women and girls throughout the world, she grew up in a political and cultural climate in which violence – both physical and emotional – was considered an acceptable means for preventing girls from exploring their sexuality. Her involvement with the feminist movement and consciousness-raising groups led to the revelation that just being a woman was enough to make one a potential target of violence around the world and consciousness raising was one of the best tools for women’s empowerment.
In over 20 years of dedicated activism, Pinar Ilkkaracan has succeeded in catalyzing social change towards a more equal and just world on multi-levels. She has always undertaken cutting edge work, challenging pre-set notions of violence, discrimination, equality and human rights and led proactive efforts to advance gender equality and human rights. She has done research on the most taboo issue of women’s sexuality in the most contested, war-inflicted areas of Turkey. She has co-authored the first book on the sexual abuse of children and produced the first documentary on domestic violence in Turkey.
The human rights training program she developed with WWHR, remains to be the most sustainable and widespread women’s human rights education program in the world. Pinar Ilkkaracan has led numerous successful advocacy initiatives in Turkey including the protection order law against domestic violence and the penal code reform to safeguard women’s sexual rights and effectively criminalize sexual violence.
Pinar Ilkkaracan has voiced the issue of women’s sexuality in Muslim societies through the first ever compilation on the issue, and connected groups working on sexual rights in Muslim countries to create the first solidarity network in the field. At the UN level, she has successfully lobbied for advancements on contentious issues such as honor crimes, forced marriages and the rights of the girl child. She is also a prominent researcher and scholar who has published extensively on a wide array of issues including sexuality, violence, migration, and human rights education. What makes Pinar Ilkkaracan’s work unique and noteworthy is her ability to link local, national and international contexts, capacity to combine activism and professionalism and ability to employ a holistic proactive approach using diverse methods.