Number of women killed in Turkey continues to rise - NPR

The number of women killed in Turkey has increased every year since it became the first country to ratify a European convention on violence against women, with 440 killed last year, National Public Radio reported

Istanbul-based watchdog We Will Stop Femicide said more than 2,600 women have been murdered in Turkey since 2010, with nearly 300 women killed so far in 2019. 

"Men can't accept that Turkey is a modern country where women have rights," said Fidan Ataselim, the group’s general secretary. "Some of these men don't even think we have the right to live."

In 2011, Turkey became the first country to sign and ratify a Council of Europe convention on preventing domestic violence, but that move has done little to change the reality. Last month, the killing of Emine Bulut by her ex-husband, who stabbed her in front of their child, sparked mass rallies and the popular hashtag “We Don’t Want to Die” (#Ölmekİstemiyoruz).

Istanbul lawyer Hulya Gülbahar said that in 2009 - the last year Turkey's government kept records on domestic violence - the Justice Ministry recorded 953 killings of women in the first seven months of the year, then revised it to 171 for the entire year. 

"The government ignores the problem because they're complicit," she told NPR. "Politicians imply that men and women are not equal, that women are given by God to man to care for.”

Özlem Özkan, another Istanbul lawyer, has seen how authorities treat her clients.

"Women who have been beaten go to the police and are told, ‘Don't file a complaint, it will just make your husband angry,’" she told NPR. "I've heard with my own ears lawyers telling women who have survived domestic violence, 'well, maybe you just want a divorce because you have a lover.’”

Male honour depends on women's obedience and men's control of women's sexuality, said gender studies scholar Fatmagül Berktay, professor emeritus of political science at Istanbul University. "It can be a daughter, it can be a wife, it can even be their own mother," she told NPR. "If they disobey him, he is emasculated."

As a result, many Turkish men, she said, view violence against women who are asserting their rights as acceptable. This may help explain why Istanbul lawyer Selin Nakıpoğlu faces death threats for prosecuting men who kill women. 

"I get emails and phone calls saying, 'I will find you and rape you and kill you’," she told NPR. "I'm not scared. But my clients are dead."