News / Europe

Turkey's Murder Rate of Women Skyrockets

Women activists carry a mock coffin of Ayse Pasali, who was shot to death by her ex-husband, during a demonstration, planned as an alternative to Valentine's Day, in central Istanbul, February 14, 2011
Women activists carry a mock coffin of Ayse Pasali, who was shot to death by her ex-husband, during a demonstration, planned as an alternative to Valentine's Day, in central Istanbul, February 14, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
Dorian Jones

In Turkey the murder rate of women increased by 1,400 percent between 2002 and 2009, the last date for which data is available. The statistic was revealed by the country's justice minister, in response to a parliamentary question. The revelation shocked the country and has put a spotlight on the government's record on women's rights, which could have implications for its European Union bid.

A recent Turkish news report focused on the murder of a woman in the streets of Istanbul. The mother of four was gunned down in the streets in broad daylight. Her husband was arrested. The news report's headline was "Another Murder of A Woman." That's because such events have become almost a daily occurance.  

According to the Turkish Justice Ministry, in seven years the rate of women murdered has jumped 1,400 percent.  In 2002, 66 women were murdered, in the first seven months of 2009 the number stood at 953. The shocking increase has made front page news; one newspaper described it as Turkey's shame. On the streets of Istanbul there is shock and resignation.

"It's really bad, the killing is a big crime, really bad," said one person.

"It happens things like this, I am not surprised," said another.

Nearly every day you can read the latest report about a woman being murdered, invariably the murder will be of the most violent nature, be it with shotguns or knives, usually carried out by an estranged or former husband, or family members in a so-called honor killing.  In a case earlier this month, a 20-year-old was strangled with her baby . The suspects were her father and brother.

The dramatic increase in killings does not surprise Pinar Ilkaracan of the non-governmental organization, Women for Women's Human Rights.

"The murders are the tip of iceberg; there is a lot of violence against women. There are thousands, tens of thousands of women, who are experiencing violence from their husbands, but they cannot leave home. First of all, what the government should do is increase the number of shelters. There are 26 shelters in 72 provinces of Turkey. This is a scandal by itself, the lowest number in European countries, for example in Germany there are 800 shelters," said Ilkaracan.

Despite the increase in murders, the government rejects such criticisms. It claims it has introduced some of the most far-reaching gender equality legislation in Europe in compliance with EU membership demands. Nimet Cubukcu, former women's minister and now minister of education, is proud of their record.

"We have introduced the most progressive legal reforms in Europe to improve women's rights at home, in school, in the workplace," she said.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan added his voice to the condemnation of violence against women.

"It is beyond contemporary understanding to exercise violence on women, whoever is beating them, or treating them beyond humanity. In the traditions and customs of this geography there can be no such thing, as committing violence in the name of honor," he said.

There has been a national TV campaign on violence against women in the last few months. Despite the campaign and political condemnation along with legal reforms, a recent study found over 40 percent of women were subject to either physical or sexual violence.

While most Turkish women's groups and the EU acknowledge government reforms, serious questions remain over the commitment of the Islamic-rooted government to gender equality. Ilkaracan says the dramatic increase in murders of women is the most worrying part of a wider trend.

"Turkey has full equality on paper, but there is an incredible resistance on the part of the government, including the women's minister to implement these reforms.  Turkey is the country where women's employment is the lowest among OECD countries, the gender gap in education is not decreasing and the number of women in decision-making mechanisms are also decreasing," Ilkaracan said.    

Such a grim picture will undoubtedly cause concern in the EU.  Women's rights remains one of the key areas of concern over Turkey's membership bid. That concern can only rise on the news of a 14-fold increase in murders of women.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid