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ANKARA, Turkey - Parliament marked International Women’s Day on Thursday by approving a package of laws aimed at better protecting women and children from abuse.

Turkey, as it vies for European Union membership, is struggling to discard long-held cultural practices that denigrate women in a largely patriarchal society.

The predominantly Muslim country also is fighting to curb “honor killings’’ of women deemed to have tarnished the reputation of their relatives, sometimes by having a premarital affair or a child out of wedlock.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan began the day by addressing a women’s rights conference in the southeastern city of Mardin.

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“We will provide legal and financial assistance and shelters to the victims,’’ he said in his speech.

Parliament quickly complied by passing laws in Ankara that increase penalties against abusers of women and children and allow police to intervene faster to protect victims and to force abusers to wear electronic monitoring devices.

Parliament also promised to create more shelters for such victims.

Meanwhile, a crime and a protest also drew attention to the issue of women’s rights in Turkey.

Diyar Bengitay, a 40-year-old Azeri mother of three, was shot and killed Thursday by a Turkish relative in Istanbul after she left home following an argument with her husband, the state-run Anadolu Agency said.

Police said the attacker was mentally unstable.

Four Ukrainian women’s rights activists staged a topless demonstration in Istanbul to protest domestic violence against women in Turkey.

The members of Ukraine’s Femen group chanted slogans and displayed banners during their one-minute protest, with one reading: “Stop acid attacks!’’

Using makeup, they also portrayed themselves women who had been beaten or suffered acid burns at the hands of husbands or in-laws.