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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs