Sıla Gençoğlu, one of Turkey’s most popular female singers, on Thursday filed a legal complaint against her boyfriend, actor Ahmet Kural, accusing him of violence.
According to her statement, the incident took place in Kural’s home, on Oct. 29, around 4 am.
"I was dragged on the floor, my head was bumped to the walls. While I was trying to escape, Ahmet Kural caught me again and hit my head with an ashtray. I was exposed to intense insults. This attack lasted about 45 minutes,” she told police.
The fact that Turkey is a dominantly Muslim country may add some spice to the issue, but in reality patterns of male violence are more or less similar across countries.
In Turkey, where 285 women were killed by men in 2017, reports of violence and sexual harassment are hardly news, especially when the victim is someone from a modest background.
But as in other countries, while violence against relatively poorer women more often comes to light, there is a greater taboo among more privileged women to report abuse to the police, or even tell friends and relatives.
Standing up against social stigmatisation is not easy, as the slightest trace of weakness may instantly take away the self-sufficient image a woman has to fight for years to establish.
Yet, all of us, at least once in our lives, become the target of male aggression.
Sıla filed a complaint against Kural thanks to Turkish law No. 6284 on protection of the family and preventing violence against woman, which in the past only allowed married women to file complaints for domestic violence.
It was changed in 2012 after years of struggle, exemplified by a woman called Ayşe Paşalı.
Paşalı repeatedly applied to courts, asking for protection from her divorced husband, whom she said had raped and beaten her. The courts denied her requests on the grounds that they were not married. Her former husband later killed her, stabbing her 11 times.
Turkey is no country for women. But it is also a country of strong and persistent women’s movements. The internet and social media over the last decade have given women the chance to reach out to others, tell their stories and build solidarity.
Social media accounts of women’s initiatives are quite popular and there is continuous mobilisation to follow court hearings of domestic violence and sexual abuse cases.
Over the last year, partially due to the global outrage of women prompted by the #MeToo movement, sexual abuse in Turkey’s entertainment sector has also hit the headlines.
In June, veteran actor Talat Bulut was accused of sexually abusing a 19-year-old movie set assistant. Well-known actor Hande Ataizi came out in support and said Bulut did the same to her 18 years ago. Around 50 producers and directors said they would boycott Bulut. Yet, his own production company was evasive and he returned to the set.
This month, Elit İşcan, a young actor, said that she was sexually harassed by fellow actor Efecan Şenolsun at the set of a Turkish online television series.
“During that time, there were lots of people who heard what happened and attempted to question me. As if I have an obligation to convince all one by one, as if everyone has a right to know all the details of what I experienced/was exposed to, what parts of my body were touched, what insults were said to me,” she said.
Yet, those examples were somehow not enough to demonstrate that violence and sexual harassment happens to all women, event the strongest.
That was why, after filing her complaint, Sıla created a media earthquake. As someone who became a much-loved pop singer relying only on her talent, someone who over the years created a peculiar feminine-masculine image, someone representing the new generation of modern women in Turkey, Sıla triggered a huge response similar to #MeToo.
It did not take long before social media was filled with posts under the hashtag #SeninleyizSıla - We are with you Sıla.
“This is a destructive experience that makes your status in your life, your successes, what you have established suddenly irrelevant. This is a moment when your eyes meet the eyes of every woman who has ever been a victim of violence in this country,” Sıla said on Twitter.
“Now, I know that it is not easy to go out to the street and say I have been exposed to violence. But I also know that, if I also choose to remain silent, I will be unfair first to myself, then every woman who has faced violence, and all the people in this country who denounce violence,” she said.
Kural denied the accusations. He said there had been a scuffle and he had only held Sıla’s arm.
Sıla, ‘Hiçbir ceza yaşadığım kabusu hayatımdan silmeyecek’ dedi... Ahmet Kural ise Buket Aydın'la Kanal D Haber'e konuştu: "Çok üzgünüm, çok!"— Hurriyet.com.tr (@Hurriyet) November 1, 2018
Meanwhile, the photos of Sıla’s arm covered bruises were posted everywhere.
Ahmet kural Sıla'ya Saldırdı. Sanatçı @silagencoglu hastanelik oldu, adliyeye başvurdu. Sıla'nın avukatı:"Gece 4'de evinde saldırdı!" Sıla'nın savcılık ifadesine ulaşıldı. Şiddetin ardından Sıla, Ahmet Kural'ın evinden kaçabildi.— Haber Global (@HaberGlobal) November 1, 2018
Canlı Yayını İzlemek İçin: https://t.co/HHitdLBzDQ pic.twitter.com/x4emgalEvl
This is not the first time Kural has been accused of violence. Last year there were rumours that the couple broke up because of a similar incident. Naz Çekem, a former girlfriend, accused Kural of breaking her finger in 2014.
Let’s hope this time will be the last.