(CW). After 27-year-old Pinar Gültekin was murdered by an ex-boyfriend this month, women in Turkey have taken to the streets in protest. Violence against women isn’t uncommon in the country, but Pinar’s death has sparked a resurgence of women’s rights activists demanding that greater protection is given. By Sadia Nowshin.
The harrowing descriptions of Pinar’s brutal murder shocked the nation, but she’s tragically not the first to be murdered by a jealous ex. Over 1,000 women have been killed in gender-based violence since 2010 in Turkey and until now, any protest has been stifled.
Activists have staged a number of peaceful protests in Turkey’s cities, demanding that the government take action. President Erdogan tweeted his condolences, saying “I despise all crimes committed against women.”
However, activists refuse to accept that his tweet, which achieves nothing in the way of preventing more victims, is enough. Little has been done to implement the ‘Istanbul Convention’, a treaty adopted in 2011 that aimed to tackle the country’s problem of violence against women and promote gender equality, and protesters are calling for the legislation to actually be actioned upon.
Why is the convention not being implemented?
Deeply religious, conservative groups have seen the convention as a threat to Turkey’s ‘traditional’ family structure. Spokeswoman for the Saadet Party, Ebru Asiltürk, argued that it would pose a threat to the “financial and moral integrity of families”, apparently by breaching an article of the country’s convention that supports the unity of the nuclear family.
There are a multitude of reasons why women are targeted in these horrific attacks. They are targeted for wearing on and other times for not, or they are single with a shunned ex or someone spread a rumour they were disloyal or had a forbidden relationship. They’ve been killed by male relatives trying to preserve an abstract family ‘honour’, jealous men nursing bruised egos, husbands who believed a random spiteful rumour. Queer and trans women are especially at risk.
So far, Turkey’s government has been less than supportive.
Police arrived to break up a peaceful march in the coastal town of Izmir, arresting several protesters. Some of those arrested shared that they had been grossly mistreated while in custody, saying that the police barricaded the route despite their constitutional right to protest and protesters were “illegally detained, beaten and abused”.
Criticism has also fallen on the lack of support for women who come forward about suffering abuse. Though they take the step of seeking help, that help just isn’t available. When women are killed at the hands of man, cases that aren’t hidden away often end in light sentences or early releases. Justice is very rarely, if ever, served.
The movement has inspired an Instagram trend, where women are sharing a black and white photo of themselves with the caption #ChallengeAccepted to support the cause. However, it’s not always made clear why the photo is being posted, and without context the posts are just burying the empowerment effort in Turkey under a wave of monochrome selfies.
What can I do that will actually make a change?
🖤 Donate to a women’s shelter in Istanbul. The AU Turkish Club recommends @morcati_vakfi on Instagram, or @small.projects.istanbul.
🖤 Share information, not selfies. Repost sources that educate on the movement and get more people informed on the issue.
🖤 Sign this petition calling for the Istanbul Convention to be implemented across Europe and share any other petitions you find.