16-year-old Turkish girl's brutal murder causes public outrage

The brutal murder of a 16-year-old Turkish girl at the hands of a 21-year-old man has caused public outrage, with people calling for the state to take action against increasing femicides. Media outlets said that Sıla Şentürk met with the suspect online and was forced by her family to engage with him.

Duvar English 

A Turkish man named Hüseyin Can Gökçek brutally murdered the 16-year-old Sıla Şentürk in the northern province of Giresun on Feb. 16. The police caught Gökçek, who was trying to flee the city.

Turkish media outlets reported that the suspect slit the girl's throat at her house. The girl reportedly met with the suspect, who lives in Ankara, online and was forced by her family to engage with him.

Şentürk was reportedly placed under state protection for a while on the grounds that she was receiving death threats from Gökçek after the engagement was broken. 

The suspect came to Giresun from Ankara and after staying one night at a hotel, he went to Şentürk's house. 

Media outlets said that the suspect had in fact kidnapped Şentürk a year ago. He was initially jailed on charges of "sexual abuse of the child" and "abduction and detention of the child." 

He was imprisoned for a month, but then released pending trial after the Şentürk family withdrew their complaint. He was reported to have several other criminal records. 

After his release, the suspect and Şentürk reportedly got back together and got engaged with the encouragement of the family. However, in the face of the suspect's violent behaviors, Şentürk filed another complaint against him. Angered by this second complaint, the suspect came to Giresun and killed Şentürk. On Feb. 17, he was arrested by a court order. 

Similar to past instances of femicides, Şentürk’s name became a trending topic on Twitter, with thousands of people calling on authorities to find a solution to the massacre of women, and stating femicide is political.

Many sports clubs such as Trabzonspor, Medipol Başakşehir, Fenerbahçe, Beşiktaş, and Galatasaray shared their condolences. 

“It is clear that the Istanbul Convention should be re-signed and new measures should be taken,” main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Group Deputy Chair Özgür Özel tweeted. 

“Albert Camus said, ‘If you want to know a country, look at how people die in that country.’ Now take some action!” Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu tweeted. 

“A child is a child. Neither bride nor lover. Our struggle is with those who buried our future in this dark mentality. We will not stop until children and women are given the right to a just life,” Ankara Mayor Mansur Yavaş tweeted. 

Femicides have reached record levels in the past decade. Some 280 women were killed by men in 2021, while another 217 women were found suspiciously dead, according to the We Will Stop Femicides Platform.

Despite this, Turkey has made moves in recent years to lessen protections for women. In July 2021, Turkey formally withdrew from the Istanbul Convention (the Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence), a move that advocacy groups say was a major setback for women in the country. Many of those that perpetuate gender-based violence or killing are also let off with light sentences or even allowed to kill again.