Releasing criminals in Turkey becomes a habit

Releasing criminals in Turkey becomes a habit

“I am going to commit a massacre, and I will kill you all!” said the husband. Police knew Ali Yardım was a violent man, so did the judges.

Every single authority that his wife, Dilek Yardım, went to file a complaint with knew he was a violent man. One day, he killed his two little daughters Hira, aged three, and Elif, two, and committed suicide to “punish” his wife. The reason? She wanted a divorce.

The murderer husband will be judged for his previous violence, what he did in April. You might think this is a joke but it isn’t. The complaints that she made earlier only began a lawsuit now - after he died. That’s how fast the courts are in Turkey. She cried out: “Why do you wait for him to kill my babies?”

Could the police or the laws have prevented this murder? Maybe. But not in the current legal system.

Let me walk you through the procedure in Turkey:

If you have a harasser and your life is at stake, you go to a police station. You lodge a complaint and if there’s enough evidence that there’s a harasser terrorizing you, police might start to look for him. If he’s to be found, he gets arrested and questioned, but according to the laws, police can keep a person in custody for 24 hours.

If you know the harasser or he’s your husband, the situation is worse. Your complaint could be perceived as a “standard family fight,” and at first you’re supposed to make peace with him. The Turkish government wants the divorce rates to fall, so the officials’ first duty is to encourage reconciliation between the wife and husband. It doesn’t matter if the husband is a violent harasser. Your words about the incident and threats are underestimated; in most cases, never heard, just like with the case of Dilek Yardım.

Let’s assume that the police kept the violent man in custody for 24 hours.

Then they have to ask judges who work in family courts about what to do with the man.

And the story never changes: They set the man free. They just let him go. No sentence, nothing.

This is a recurring pattern. That’s why since 2010, 1,915 women were killed in Turkey.

Does this happen because we’re lacking laws that protect women? Absolutely not. In 2012, an enforced law to protect women was put forward, but it became apparent that it was just good on paper. It’s poorly executed, leaving women helpless.

Releasing the harasser has become a habit for judges in Turkey.

I have my own share as a journalist, too. A man, who irrationally claimed: “You write about me in your columns and have my cellphone tapped,” started to make inappropriate calls more than a year ago. He even came to the daily Hürriyet’s offices, but due to suspicious behavior, he was barred and sent away by the security. Then he found my home address and tried to break into my house. He said he was a “courier,” but when I looked from the peephole, I realized that he was not and I did not open the door. After he revealed who he was and threatened that he would “break my skull,” I called the police right away. But it took one hour for them to come, and until then he continued to terrorize me. He was captured by the police. But guess what happened? He was released after being kept 24 hours in custody.

No authority rules that what he did was a crime, and the lawsuit case took a year. So, the criminals repeat the crime. Very expectedly, two weeks ago, the man who attacked me called and threatened me again. I went to the police right away and made a legal complaint, asked for protection. He was caught a day later since the police are familiar with the case. But of course, you know how the story ends: He was released by a judge, who thought there was no need for protection for me because of the “lack of evidence.”

Long story short, the attacker is free, again. Just like other attackers, other harassers, other molesters, other men who jeopardize women’s lives.

In its latest annual report, Freedom House reduced Turkey’s status from “partly free” to “not free.”

Freedom House is right. We are not free. Ironically, the freest people in Turkey are violent men who disdain women. They are not given any punishments; instead, they are given the permission and impunity to continue.

Yes. We’re not free.

melike karakartal, hdn, Opinion,