Male violence is rising. Unfortunately, in quarantine days, the fight against violence has been made much more ineffective than before. It is not at all difficult, after all, to imagine the problems created by a perpetrator and a victim of violence staying in the same house. We are already aware of the situation of male violence before quarantine started due to the pandemic. I can explain what is happening and what will be happening in quarantine based on previous figures.
The data on the classification of murder sites provided by the Interior Ministry and published in a publication from the Police Academy will give an adequate idea. As a side note, the data is from 2016, while the other two years, 2017 and 2018, are based on that year’s data. Murders at home constitute 72.8 percent of the total, street murders 15 percent, open terrain murders 3.3 percent, workplace murders 3.2 percent and other places, 5.7 percent.
Even though it is known that male violence is not only limited to patriarchal murders, from this data that the Interior Ministry has shared for the first time in its history, we see that it has only focused on murders. Likewise, we have recently witnessed claims by the same ministry, also pointing only to the data on murders, that violence was decreasing.
It is clearly known that this is not the case through the words of those who work in the anti-domestic violence field. Anadolu Agency reported, based on the Istanbul Police Department, that domestic violence-related calls were 38.2 percent higher in March 2020 compared to the same month one year before. Women’s organizations also report an increase in the number of calls they receive through their hotlines.
While 72 percent of patriarchal murders, which are the product of male violence, are committed at home, it is also known that other types of violence that are much more frequent than murders are mainly committed at home in a systematic style and at an extent that resembles torture. The fact that perpetrators and victims of violence are kept inside the same house in this quarantine period increases violence.
During the same period, the state almost suspended legislation on combating violence, which it was already reluctant to implement. Even the Council of Judges and Prosecutors, the top disciplinary body within the legal system, ordered that injunction orders related to the main law on domestic violence be implemented lightly due to the circumstances of the epidemic. However, those injunction orders are the only way to prevent violence.
Another matter is the punishment of the perpetrator after violence occurs. Of course, they should not go unpunished, but the important issue is to stop violence before it even occurs. The only way to prevent violence before it happens is the effective execution of restraining and preventive orders. On one hand, now, everybody is staying at home because of the virus, and on the other hand, it looks as though preventive measures have been suspended because of the outbreak. As in the rest of the world, we know that male violence has increased due to the quarantine, but we also see that measures against violence have decreased.
Moreover, with the recent amnesty law, numerous violent offenders have enjoyed sentence reductions. This kind of covert amnesty equates to impunity. Many violent offenders have been set free, while the remaining ones can transfer to open prisons and take permission to temporarily leave and interact with society. They have already joined us. Women, except for those who have been injured by their sons, fathers and husbands and/or except for those who have been injured with nitric acid or similar caustic materials, now have the risk of coming face-to-face with the man who was violent to them. The state is not fulfilling its obligation in protecting women and children from male violence. At the same time, they are making a “perception operation” that violence is diminishing.
Trying to get by through perception management has opened the door for many women and children to live under torture. It is very sad that when we have adequate means to prevent male violence, it is actually violence itself that is under protection. Metaphorically and literally, it hurts. For instance, if the Istanbul Convention is implemented, then stalking would be considered a crime and many women may be saved from being injured or killed. Unfortunately, they have surrendered to defamatory campaigns and have not implemented the Istanbul Convention. Maybe the reason that the convention was signed in the first place was an effort to get by for the time being. Former Family Minister and current mayor of Gaziantep, Fatma Şahin, in a recent interview with Gazete Duvar, explained the reasons the agreement was signed in the first place. I picked up key words from her explanation: “Zeitgeist, EU accession, the attitude of the government prioritizing women’s, children’s and human rights, the strict tradition that causes violence, patriarchal.” These words can be contrasted with the language of the defamatory campaign against domestic violence laws, which include phrases like “I am also a mother,” “if the analysis shows that it harms the family,” “if children were to be hurt,” “the Istanbul Agreement is not a verse from the Quran,” “contracts exist today, not tomorrow,” and so on.
In short, in Turkey, pragmatist right wing politics takes full advantage of those conceptual gaps. Apparently, those who do not execute the Istanbul Convention think they can easily change or cancel this agreement. Perception operations are not enough, because the Istanbul Convention was born from a real need. It was born from a real need, from the rise of violence, drafted with women’s efforts and experiences. Male violence is a real and escalating issue.
The Istanbul Convention is the basic mechanism of combating male violence and it is clear that women will not give up. I don’t think that even the power of this government would be enough to destroy or ignore women’s efforts. The level of pain from escalating male violence because they have not implemented the agreement and laws will be addressed to them.