440 women were killed in 2018 in Turkey: Women’s rights group

440 women were killed in 2018 in Turkey: Women’s rights group

Zeynep Bilgehan – ISTANBUL
440 women were killed in 2018 in Turkey: Women’s rights group

A staggering 440 women were killed in Turkey in 2018, according to an organization that keeps a tally of femicides across the country.

Of this number, 131 were logged as “shady deaths,” in which there is no blatant connection between the cause or reason and the death. But women’s rights groups have long blamed authorities for failing these women by ignoring circumstances and factors that may have led to the murders. 

Some 43 women were killed just in January of this year, a report by Kadın Cinayetlerini Durduracağız Platformu (We Will Stop Femicide Platform) stressed, adding that the bodies of seven out of the 43 women were found in lakes, streams or buried in the woods.

The number of women killed in 2017 was 409, according to a previous report published by the same organization.

“The forms of violence against women are changing. Shady deaths and femicides by unknown assailants are on the rise. Many incidents are being covered up. When [femicide] cases are identified as ‘suicide,’ it becomes exemplary for similar incidents,” Fidan Ataselim, secretary-general of the platform, has told daily Hürriyet.

Ataselim underlined that the state’s agencies “need to side with women” and police officers need to meticulously collect and analyze evidence in women murder cases.

“The more we bring shady deaths out into the open, the more the numbers will decline,” she said.

“In our report, 10 out of 43 femicides are labeled as ‘shady killings’ [in January of this year], but this is only the figure we could have gathered [from news reports],” said Gülsüm Kav, the general representative of the platform, implying that the actual figure could be much higher.

“Unless perpetrators and their motives are identified, unless deterrent penalties are given to suspects and killers, and unless precautionary measures are taken, violence will continue,” Kav said.

“It is getting more difficult to identify the perpetrator in femicides, because cases are not being taken seriously,” said Leyla Süren, one of the lawyers of the platform. “In Turkey, if the victim is a woman, investigations are not being launched,” Süren said.

The lawyer also stressed that when the Istanbul Convention, formally known as The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, was signed in 2011 violence against women had reached its lowest rates in recent years in Turkey. “Discourse has changed since, and since 2000 violence against women has increased by 1,400 percent,” she said.

Süren also drew attention to the importance of public opinion in femicide cases and said for cases which the public follows closely, the relevant court’s decision of good conduct time “gets precluded about 83 percent.”

An example of this is the case of Şule Çet, the lawyer said, referring to a 23-year-old university student who died after being thrown out of the 20th story of a tower in the capital Ankara in the early hours of May 29, 2018. Two male business partners have been indicted by a prosecutor for sexually assaulting and then murdering Çet by throwing her out of the window of the tower. The case is still ongoing.

“The case of Şule Çet has reached this level of importance thanks to the women’s movement and the pressure of the public. People have come to the point of seeking justice on Twitter. They are sharing it [the case of Çet] on social media to access justice… Families only feel relieved after they are convinced of an efficient investigation,” Süren said.