Turkish women taking to streets to protest murder of university student

The killing of a 27-year-old university student in Turkey’s western province of Muğla has sparked fury across the country, with women’s rights groups preparing to protest in a number of large cities on Tuesday.

The body of Pınar Gültekin was discovered buried in a rural area on the outskirts of Muğla on Tuesday, five days after she went missing. Police have detained a suspect, Cemal Metin A., who claims to have been in a relationship with Gültekin, in relation to the killing.

Women in Ankara, Istanbul, the western province of İzmir, the southern province of Adana and the northern province of Samsun are preparing to take to the streets, following a call by umbrella women’s rights group, Women's Assemblies, and the Ankara Women's Platform, Bianet news site reported.

The murder of arrives as ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials are weighing Turkey’s withdrawal from a council of Europe human rights treaty against domestic and gender-based violence, known as the Istanbul Convention.

“How many more of our women must we lose in order to enact the Istanbul Convention,’’ opposition centre-right Good Party leader Meral Akşener said on Twitter as she condemned the brutal murder.

Turkey’s Minister of Family, Labour and Social Services, Zehra Zümrüt Selçuk, tweeted that the ministry is closely following the case and the ensuing judicial process to ensure that  “the murderer will get the heaviest sentence possible."

“When will you realise the importance the Istanbul Convention and Turkish Law No.6284 carry, particularly for women,“ main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Sezgin Tanrıkulu said. 

After signing the convention in 2012, Turkey added Article 6284, for the protection of the family and prevention of violence against women, to its civil law. Together, they call for increased support services for women and children, including rape crisis centres and women’s shelters. 

“When we say femicides are political, this is precisely what we mean. There is no step being taken to prevent them, on the contrary, we are regressing with each passing day,’’ Tanrıkulu wrote on Twitter.

Opposition pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) released a statement saying that discussion on withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention when women are being murdered everyday, is effectively being an accomplice to femicide.

“We are in protest, we are angry, and we are determined to prevent violence,’’ the HDP Women’s Congress said on Twitter.

The number of murdered Turkish women has increased by over 63 percent in recent years, from 303 in 2015 to 474 last year, according to data from the Ankara-based advocacy group We Will Stop Femicides Platform.