Some in Turkey blame the rise in the number of women murdered by a partner or relative and the killing of nearly 2,000 women in the last eight years on the derogatory statements made about women by the leading Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials; however, the problem has more to do with the enforcement of law, write Dalia Mortada and Nicole Tung in an article they penned for the New York Times.
According to women’s rights organizations We Will Stop Femicide, the number of women murdered by a partner or relative in Turkey increased from 237 in 2013 to 409 in 2017. The group logged 130 deaths from January through April of this year.
Even though the Turkish government has introduced programs to protect women and in 2012 enacted domestic violence legislation, the laws are not enforced, the article states, quoting Fidan Ataselim, the Istanbul representative of We Will Stop Femicide.
‘’Judges can reduce sentences against the men for good behavior like appearing remorseful or praying regularly, which means the men tend to get off easy. This stands in stark contrast to the punishments meted to women like Nevin Yildirim, who was given a life sentence for killing and behading the relative who raped her, and Cilem Dogan, who was sentenced to 15 years for killing her husband after he tried to prostitute her,’’ the two write.
Physical violence against women in Turkey has increasingly come into the spotlight as there are now more reliable statistics.
‘’In the first seven months of 2009, for example, the Justice Ministry said that 953 women were slain, while the Ministry of Family and Social Policy reported 171 women killed. Women’s rights organizations like We Will Stop Femicide and The Femicide Map have begun to keep more accurate records,’’ the article states.
Since a failed coup in 2016, Turkey’s court system has been in turmoil, which translates to problems for victims in a system known for is slow-moving criminal proceedings.
The article gives example after example of women who are brutally slain by their partners or relatives.
One victim’s story is as follows:
‘’Pinar Unluer, 29, was murdered by an acquaintance in the cafeteria of her son’s school. The man worked at a sandwich shop near the school and had followed her for weeks, eventually proposing to Ms. Unluer, who was a single mother. When she declined his offer, he decided to kill her. One morning in December 2012 he drove his car up and down the road outside her son’s school with a shotgun in the back seat. Video surveillance cameras show him walking into the school building and shooting her twice before dropping the gun and running away.’’
The We Will Stop Femicides Platform believes there are at least four steps to be taken to prevent the cycle of violence against women: to raise a society where such events have no place; to take the necessary measures to stop violence; to lead by example, by protecting the women and prosecuting crimes; and lastly, to empower women in all aspects of life.