Suspects’ ‘virginity’ defense stirs public outrage in case on Turkish woman’s death

Suspects’ ‘virginity’ defense stirs public outrage in case on Turkish woman’s death

ANKARA
Suspects’ ‘virginity’ defense stirs public outrage in case on Turkish woman’s death

23-year-old university student Şule Çet died after falling from the 20th story of an office tower in Ankara in the early hours of May 29, 2018.

The attorneys of two suspects who were charged with raping and killing a young female co-worker in the Turkish capital have sparked national outrage with their defense speech before a court in which they said the victim was not a virgin. 

Two male business partners, Çağatay Aksu and Berk Akand (below), had been indicted by a prosecutor for sexually assaulting and then murdering 23-year-old university student Şule Çet by throwing her out of the window of a tower in Ankara in the early hours of May 29, 2018.

Suspects’ ‘virginity’ defense stirs public outrage in case on Turkish woman’s death

The suspects, who appeared before the judge in the first trial at the 31st Heavy Penal Court in Ankara on Feb. 6, said they were innocent. Aksu claimed that Çet, who was working as his assistant, jumped out of the window from the building’s 20th story although he tried to stop her after they listened to music and drank alcohol in the office late at night. The other suspect, Akand, said he was intoxicated and could not remember what exactly happened that night.

Amid often conflicting statements, the two suspects also failed to explain clearly why they completely cleaned the office after Çet jumped (below). No fingerprints were found on the window glass or the cups they used to drink alcohol, but Akand’s DNA was found inside two of Çet’s finger nails. Two private expert reports had also showed that there was a mark of a human bite on Çet’s hip together with a broken bone near her throat.

Suspects’ ‘virginity’ defense stirs public outrage in case on Turkish woman’s death

While Aksu denied that he had a relationship with the woman, evidence in the file shows that Çet had sent a cellphone message soon before her death, telling a friend that the man “is not letting me leave the office as he is in love with me.”

Aksu’s attorney, on the other hand, reprimanded the victim’s lawyers for “asking questions like a detective.”

“The prosecution has so many gaps in the indictment and it is ridiculous,” the attorney said, stressing that the victim was “not a virgin and no bruise or ruptures were found in her anal zone.”

The defence attorney was bashed over this defense on social media, as some local media outlets described it on Feb. 7 as “scandalous.”

The court adjourned the hearing to May 15, ruling for the continuation of the suspects’ arrest.

Suspects’ ‘virginity’ defense stirs public outrage in case on Turkish woman’s death

Many activists see the trial over Çet’s death as a test of the Turkish judiciary’s view on women’s rights and freedoms in a country where 440 women were killed by their abusive husbands, boyfriends or male relatives only in 2018.

Several women’s associations participated in the first hearing, carrying placards that read “We demand real justice, not justice only for men.”

Şule Çet was a student who had to work to earn a living. Her death was masked as a suicide so that her killers would be acquitted. We continue to shout out that it was a murder. Our presence here is an accomplishment for the women’s struggle in Turkey,” the members of the Ankara Women’s Platform said in front of the courthouse before the first hearing.

Turkish court reaffirms state’s duty to protect women’s right to go out at night
Turkish court reaffirms state’s duty to protect women’s right to go out at night

Şule Çet, women's rights, Turkey