On the evening of 7 January in Antalya, Melek İpek, a 31-year-old mother of two children, was stripped naked, handcuffed, and subjected once again to physical and sexual violence by her husband, Ramazan İpek.
The next day, Melek İpek shot dead her abusive husband with a rifle after he threatened to kill both her and her two children. She was sent to prison by a Turkish court for killing her husband. “I used my rights to protect my children and myself. I lived through torture and sexual assault”, said Melek in her initial testimony.
Women, feminists, human rights’ defenders and civil society organisations around the country were outraged over the decision, insisting that “self-defence is a right”. A campaign was launched via Twitter demanding freedom for Melek İpek, who suffered systematic violence and abuse from her husband for 12 years.
Women from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Yüksekova Women’s Council in Turkey’s eastern province of Hakkari (Colemêrg) spoke to Jin News about the case. “What she did is self-defence and she cannot be punished for that”, said the Women’s Council.
‘Self-defence is a right’
Selcan Saygı said that all women can understand what Melek İpek had been through both as a woman and as a mother. “Melek killed the man she was married to in self-defence, which is a right. If Melek did not defend herself, she would not be alive today and the man who murdered her would not have been punished the way Melek is being punished now. The court would decrease his penalty just for wearing a tie”, she said.
“Melek should not be in prison”, said Saygı, adding that what the court did was essentially punish Melek for being alive.
Öznur Evin agrees with her. “Think of a life that is full of rape and torture. If Melek did not kill him, he would have killed her”, said Evin, drawing attention to the importance of solidarity among women. “As women, we should not have to live with the fear that we will be murdered by our fathers, brothers, and lovers. We women are stronger when we are together. Therefore, we believe that we should be in solidarity with all the women subjected to violence. Punishing Melek means punishing all women. Melek must be released immediately”.