The justice we longed for: Abusive grandfather sentenced to 40 years in jail

The justice we longed for: Abusive grandfather sentenced to 40 years in jail

I often write about discrimination against women and children in my column. Sexual abuse cases, rape cases, assault cases, femicides...

Most importantly, I write about how women are often left without support in these cases, and how they remain vulnerable and unprotected.

Neither lawmakers nor law enforcement officials side with women in Turkey. They are happy to say “women are flowers,” or “heaven lies below the feet of mothers,” or “children are the future.” But what is actually happening is out in the open.

Everybody reads about them and witnesses them.

Yes, I usually write about depressing issues concerning women in this column. But I do that so things can perhaps be improved, even if only a little. I believe in women’s solidarity with all my heart. I believe that when we stand together, when we come together to make some noise things can get better.

Perhaps I’m a hopeless optimist. But today I woke up to some fantastic news.

There was a horrific case of abuse that took place in Mersin’s Silifke district on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast: A grandfather had abused his five-year-old granddaughter.

I had written about this and had interviewed the mother.

The investigation process had been extended by a considerable extent and the suspect was not caught. The atrocities did not end there: The child’s own father had sided with the suspect’s father in the case.

Nevertheless, the grandfather was arrested in the first hearing. In the meantime it was women’s organizations and a female neighborhood head (muhtar) who supported the mother.

This makes me really emotional. It is such a good example of how we can stand together as women to right a wrong.

An apartment was rented for them and they were financially supported by the Family and Social Policies Ministry. Lawyer Şerif Arıcı Yıldız took on the case pro-bono, while a lawyer from the ministry also got involved in the case. The Family Ministry followed the case and so did women’s organizations.

Most importantly, the women of Silifke themselves monitored the process, all gathering at the hearing to receive the verdict.

In sum, everyone played a role in this case. The result? The judges in the case moved on with the trial with utmost compassion. In the end suspect was not given a reduced sentence based on some technicality.

This is great news. I take my hat off to the panel of judges and to Yıldız, the lawyer who took on the case pro-bono. Of course, I also salute everyone who supported the mother and the child in the case. It is just as important to see such solidarity in a case as it is for the suspect to be given a proper sentence.

Sadly, over the course of the case the women was heavily disgraced, beaten up for not dropping the charges and thrown out of her house. She was forced to leave her house along with her three children.

But the women there lent her a hand and kept standing by her. They said they believed in her and that they also felt the pain deep in their hearts. “Justice will be served,” they said. That is how the woman found the strength in herself to continue the fight.

Society survives on compassion and governments survive on justice. We should all salute the women of Silifke, Mersin’s local press who followed the case, and everyone involved.

Ayşe Arman, hdn, Opinion, Turkey