Dilan Yıldız, a women’s rights activist from the Free Women’s Movement (TJA), shared her perspectives with Mesopotamia Agency regarding the Turkish government’s policies on violence against women and the women’s struggle.
Nineteen years after the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to the power with its assertion that it had “zero tolerance to violence against women”, 7,455 women have been murdered in Turkey, she noted. The Turkish government’s inability to prevent violence against women has been severely criticized by women’s rights activists since the AKP took power in 2002. Feminists and women’s rights defenders have accused the government of failing to act against the increasing numbers of women killed as a result of male violence.
Yıldız defines the increased numbers of women who have been killed as a femicide. “The male perpetrators who have murdered women have been protected through judicial packages and amnesty laws that have been implemented by the government”, she said. “The penalties given are no deterrent. The fact that a man can think in such a way that if he kills a woman, he can be released after two years, shows the practice of the law”.
‘The state doesn’t take the appropriate precautions to protect women’
The government has placed women in a position of “you will either die or kill”, Yıldız notes. “The state doesn’t take the appropriate precautions to protect women or provide a legal system for women to defend their lives. Women are considered in the last stage. A woman who kills a man because of violence can get more punishment than a man who kills a woman”, she said.
“This shows just how biased the judicial system is against women.A woman who has to kill a man to save herself or to protect her child can be subjected to an aggravated life sentence”.
‘The government threatens the achievements of women’
Yıldız pointed to the Melek Ipek case, where Melek killed her husband Ramazan Ipek, who had abused and tortured her using systematic violence over several years. “Melek used her right to self defence, but she was sentenced to prison for life”, she said.
Regarding the recent arrest of women’s rights activists and politicians such as Free Women’s Movement (TJA) spokesperson Ayşe Gökkan and Democratic Society Congress (DTK) Co-chair Leyla Güven, Yıldız concluded that the reason for their arrests had been to attack the women’s struggle. “The government threatens the achievements of women, tries to intimidate us with detention, arrests and prison sentences. But with each woman’s arrest, the women’s movement gets stronger”, she said.