At least 332 women were killed and 110 died in suspicious circumstances in Turkey last year, while 33 children were killed and 49 were subjected to abuse, according to data compiled by Jin News.
The data for the first months of 2021 do not look any better. More than 110 women have been killed or have died in suspicious circumstances as of 1 May 2021, Jin News reports.
While organisations for women’s solidarity and protection are demanding the full and effective implementation of the Istanbul Convention, women’s rights activists and specialists of domestic violence-related issues have urged the Turkish authorities to enforce laws to protect women, take cautionary decisions for the protection of women and monitor violations of women’s rights closely. Yet the Turkish government continues to target women’s rights activists, raid women’s homes and jail women as political prisoners.
“Homes are not safe for many women during the pandemic,” said Tülay Güler, an activist of the Free Women’s Association (TJA). “Domestic violence almost doubled during the pandemic with a 43 percent increase during the lockdowns. The number of women calling the TJA for help and support against violence at home has increased significantly.”
Güler stated they they have been trying to assist women during the pandemic by providing psychological and legal support, but the state is far from supporting their struggle. “We try to give material and psychological support when we can, but we are talking about men killing their own mothers, partners, sisters. This is a systematic femicide pattern, dependent on the political and financial crises,” she said.
She added: “The penalties are not intimating and they also reduce penalties for good behaviour. Wear a suit and a tie and this is good behaviour for the state. We are talking about a state which refrains from implenting its own laws.”
Güler explained that some communities face a greater threat. “There are many Kurdish women who call the TJA for help. Kurdish women face a significant level violence in small neighborhoods,” she said.
“İpek Er in Batman and Gülistan Doku in Dersim are just two symbolic examples of the increased vulnerability of Kurdish women. All perpetrators who killed or raped or kidnapped a Kurdish woman have been released. There is no intention to investigate or put anyone trial.”
Aslı Yükçü, a psychologist from the Mor Çatı (Purple Roof) Women’s Shelter, shared the information that so far 1,687 women have applied to the foundation in 2021, and in 2020 a total of 3,936 women asked Mor Çatı for support.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, it has been said that homes are safe, but many women stayed home with their fathers, husbands or brothers and were subjected to violence,” Yükçü said.
”So many women called us during the pandemic seeking support that our telephone line operated like an emergency help line,” she added.
Women in Turkey had difficulties in accessing the mechanisms by which they could receive support, Yükçü said. “They had difficulties in accessing social services and legal support, which are supposed to be provided by state institutions. We have received complaints that police officers often sent them back to their homes where the violence was experienced.”
Yükçü continued: “Women also reported that their demands were not even listened to by the local security officials and they were transferred to another unit after they had been kept waiting for many hours.”
Quarantine measures made it even harder for women to seek help. “Shelters did not accept women due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Yükçü. “The women who were accepted in shelters had to remain under quarantine in inhumane conditions. The Ministry must take urgent action on this point.”