Müzeyyen Yüce / DUVAR

In 2013, Muhterem Göçmen was killed by her husband Serdar Göçmen, who stabbed her to death at the hair salon where she worked. Tuba Erkol was killed by her husband in front of her children in Konya, and Gülseren Yılmaz was murdered by her husband in her home in Alanya because she wanted a divorce. These murders occurred despite the fact that all of these women had restraining orders against their husbands. 

Activists say that the Istanbul Convention, the Council of Europe’s initiative to prevent violence against women in Turkey, and other laws concerning the issue are not being properly enforced. 

“These [restraining orders] must be implemented immediately based on the woman’s declaration. In the event that they are violated, there is the implementation of mandatory imprisonment. Unfortunately this law is not being enforced. It also must be checked if the perpetrator is complying with preventative measures, but we are deficient in this regard as well,” said Fidan Ataselim, general secretary of the We Will Stop Femicide platform. 

Ataselim said that the practice of giving reduced sentences for crimes committed on the basis of “honor” must also be stopped. 

According to the president of the Federation of Women’s Associations, Canan Güllü, nearly 50 percent of women murdered are in possession of a restraining order, and the policies of the Istanbul Convention are not being implemented on the ground. Güllü also said that the practice of granting reduced sentences for men who claim they were provoked by jealousy or issues relating to their honor continues to be a problem. 

“There isn’t anything missing in the laws: it’s that they are not being enforced. The Ministry of Justice must educate judges on this issue. For the Istanbul Convention to become widespread, classes on the subject should be taught to law students at universities,” said İdil Yalçıner Şimşek, president of the Center for Women’s Rights of the Ankara Bar Association. 

Issuing a restraining order is not enough

“According to the research, the practice of giving men electronic tracking bracelets has resulted in the reduction of the murder rate. We believe that this practice can help prevent femicide on a short-term basis. We need to increase our preventative and protective measures. Simply issuing a restraining order isn’t a solution—it’s just on paper. There needs to be unit or a mechanism in the Ministry of Justice that inspects whether or not the restraining orders are being enforced,” Şimşek said. 

Within the past nine months, 1,840 women in Turkey have applied for a restraining order, said Birsen Baş Topaloğlu, vice president of the Center for Women’s Rights of the Istanbul Bar Association.

“When they are not enforced, the effectiveness of [restraining orders] decreases. Men who are under restraining orders can come and leave the house as they please. These decisions are not being followed through on,” said Baş Topaloğlu. She noted that five men have been ordered to wear tracking devices since the practice was implemented in 2018, and none of them have violated their restraining orders. “The use of electronic tracking devices must be expanded.”