Death penalty won’t stop violence against women: Activists

Death penalty won’t stop violence against women: Activists

Ece Çelik – ISTANBUL
Death penalty won’t stop violence against women: Activists

Women’s rights activists have launched a campaign against proposals of bringing the death penalty back after recent incidents of violence against women caused public outrage. The campaign’s hashtag #idamçözümdeğil (death penalty is not a solution) has been spreading on social media.

The murder of a Turkish woman by her ex-husband in front of her daughter sparked outrage on Aug. 23 after a video of the attack went viral online.

In the first six months of 2019, 214 women were killed by men, while 440 women were killed last year, according to the women’s rights group We Will Stop Femicides. That was up from 409 women in 2017 and 121 in 2011.

“Such incidents inflict deep wounds in our souls; every one of us gets shocked and society wants the assailants to be punished. But the objective of the death penalty should be questioned as well. The government has thrown the ball out of bounds following the last six or seven incidents [of deadly violence against women], just saying that they would approve a legislation bringing the death penalty back. Putting death penalty on the agenda of parliament means retreating from modernity,” said Canan Güllü, the head of the Federation of Women Associations of Turkey (TKDF).

“The Turkish Penal Code includes many articles that can prevent femicides. We have been reminding the existence of the Law No. 6284 and the preventive articles of the Istanbul Convention. If these are implemented, there wouldn’t be so many femicides,” she added, referring to the Council of Europe convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence signed in 2011.

“Even if the law enforcement officers implement these laws, the judiciary fails to do so. We can even see decisions of good conduct abatement for assailants made by high courts,” said Güllü.

She also pointed to the need of a “mental transformation” regarding the social status of women in society and family.

“Women choose the path to divorce when they feel stuck in domestic violence, but they get killed on the street. We have been facing a masculinity that opens way to atrocity against enlightened women. In this perception, the woman’s body is humiliated, and women are deemed underdeveloped and the complementary, not essential, part of the family,” Güllü said.

Berfu Şeker, one campaigner, said that they would bring forward their own methods of preventing violence against women.

“We have prepared cards reading that the solution is founding emergency response units against femicides, and state policies deterring male violence would prevent femicides, not death penalty,” she said.

The Turkish Parliament abolished the death penalty for crimes excluding those committed during times of war and related to terrorism. It was completely removed from the penal code in 2004.

But no death penalty sentence was approved in parliament since 1984, when two left-wing militants were hanged.

“When we go back and look at the years when the death penalty was effective, they cannot show a single incident of anyone being executed for violence against women. Death penalties are implemented against unemployed, helpless people or refugees, whereas the privileged ones always break loose. Over and above, such penalties would be implemented predominantly against women unless sexist judiciary practices change,” said women rights activist and lawyer Hülya Gülbahar.

She also recalled that assailants committing crimes of torture against children or kin should be given a jail time between three and eight years.