Turkey cannot protect women from violence, says victim

A victim of attempted murder by her husband said the Turkish state is incapable of protecting women from violence, according to a report by the Financial Times on Wednesday. 

In June, Nurtaç Canan’s husband shot her five times and left her to die after she ended their 23-year marriage. She survived, despite a ruptured artery in her leg.

“The state cannot shield us within the four walls of the home,” Canan told the FT. 

Canan’s husband has been charged with premeditated attempted murder. “If he now spends the rest of his life in prison, other men who hear about him will be too afraid to attempt the same,” she said.

At least 63 women killed in Turkey in the past two months, almost all by male relatives or partners. Almost 500 women were killed in Turkey last year, a figure that has increased almost fourfold since 2011, according to the We Will Stop Femicide Platform. 

However, the Turkish government is considering withdrawing from the landmark Istanbul Convention, an international treaty that offers legal and social guidelines on how to curb violence against women. 

The ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) may announce a decision on whether to withdraw from the convention this week, the FT said.

The killings “are like a death toll from a war, and in this war we don’t have a weapon, just the law”, lawyer Selin Nakipoğlu, who represents abuse victims, told the FT. “Although the convention hasn’t been effectively implemented, abandoning it would have a domino effect on what protections we have.”

In recent months, conservative groups in Turkey have stepped up attacks on the convention, saying it encourages divorce and subverts morality. 

But Nakipoğlu said leaving the treaty would send the wrong message to perpetrators.

“If the state says this convention doesn’t align with our values, it is saying violence against women is legitimate,” said Nakipoğlu. “Leaving the convention provides courage to potential killers.”