Turkish police officer refuses to help attacked trans women: ‘It's not my job to protect you’

A Turkish police officer has reportedly refused to help a group of trans women attacked in the Aegean province of İzmir, telling them: “It is not my job to protect you.”

This file photo shows people attending a protest in central Istanbul in demand of justice over the murder of a trans woman.

Cihan Başakçıoğlu / DUVAR

On the night of Jan. 17, four assailants with spiked clubs tried to extort money from a group of trans sex workers waiting on the street in the western province of İzmir's Alsancak neighborhood.

After they were exposed to an attack, the trans women ran towards police officers waiting nearby and asked for help. But, according to the women's report and security footage, one of the police officers told the trans women, "It's not my job to protect you.” 

One of the trans women, Elif told Gazete Duvar what happened that night. “One of the police officers said ‘I'm not your bodyguard. You couldn't agree on the price, now are you asking for help from the state?’” Elif said.

When Elif told the police officer, “I am a victim as a citizen. Don't judge me by my gender. I want your help as a human being,” the officer reportedly replied: “Look at your appearance, God forgive you. Are you asking for help from us with this appearance of you? I'm not obligated to protect you; I'm not your personal bodyguard.”

Afterwards, another police team appeared at the scene of the attack, but they were also very far away from helping the trans women and instead tried to detain them.

“The team tried to take us into custody on the grounds that we resisted the police. We did not resist the police. We are the victims. They didn't go to catch the attackers, they tried to detain us,” Elif told Gazete Duvar.

She said they were also battered in the police station. “Before the assailants’ statements were taken, they threatened us inside the police station saying, 'We will kill you, it is not a crime to kill you, fagots'. While the statement of our friend was being taken, we were beaten again by the attackers inside the police station. The police did nothing,” Elif said.

Elif said that the police had released the attackers and had not taken any official report of the incident. She said that the police had not even escorted them to their houses despite the awaiting danger of the assailants.

“They [attackers] did not leave from in front of the police station. They began to wait at the door, threatening us,” Elif said. “I don’t want to be killed.” 

Transgender people face a wide variety of discrimination in everyday life in Turkey and frequently face violent attacks that go unpunished. LGBT+ activists are demanding more safety and pointing out that politicians are responsible for the homophobic and transphobic climate in the country.

Two trans women were killed and three were seriously injured in the successive hate attacks against trans women in the last three months in İzmir.

LGBTI+ organizations to protest attacks in face of increasing hate crimes 

Meanwhile, LGBTI+ organizations in İzmir are taking to the streets against the increasing attacks. LGBTI+ organizations made a call to the public to attend their protest with the slogan “Our trans lives are valuable.” The protest will take place in front of the Alsancak Türkan Saylan Cultural Center at 6 p.m. on Jan. 28.