The murder of a ballerina has added to the outrage over the increasing number of femicides in Turkey, with women urging the authorities to take action to prevent deaths.
Ceren Özdemir, a 20-year-old university student, was stabbed to death by an unknown assailant in the Black Sea province of Ordu on Dec. 4 – becoming one of the hundreds of women killed by men in the country.
Violence against women is in grave levels in Turkey, with at least 430 women killed in the past 11 months, according to the statistics shared by We Will Stop Femicide Platform (Kadın Cinayetlerini Durduracağız Platformu), which also said that 39 women were killed in November.
The platform’s data reveals the extent of the problem, with 237 women killed in 2013, 294 in 2014, 303 in 2015, 328 in 2016, 409 in 2017 and 440 in 2018.
While women continue to get killed on a daily basis, the sentences given to men are far from being deterrent, with judges decreasing jail terms of the perpetrators over “good conduct” in court – a practice that seems to take place only in the cases of violence against women.
Decrease in sentences over ‘good conduct’
The most recent example of the practice took place on Dec. 4 in the case into the murder of Şule Çet, a 23-year-old university student who was found dead in Ankara on May 28, 2018, with the judge decreasing the sentence of one of the suspects over “good conduct.”
An Ankara court sentenced Çağatay Aksu to an aggravated life sentence and 12 years and six months of imprisonment on charges of “deliberate killing,” “aggravated sexual assault” and “deprivation of liberty.”
Aksu’s sentence, however, was decreased by the court over “good conduct” from aggravated life sentence to life in jail, prompting Çet’s lawyers to announce that they will appeal to the verdict.
Berk Akand, the other suspect, was given 18 years and nine months of jail time over “accessory to murder,” “aggravated sexual assault” and “deprivation of liberty.”
Both Akand and Aksu claimed that Çet committed suicide and said that she was not a virgin in a bid to clear themselves of rape charges.
The case is an example of the struggle of women’s rights groups and social media users against the attempts of men to cover up the murders they committed, as well as the judicial system that’s significantly on men’s side.
Ignored complaints lead to femicides
Strikingly, a high number of femicides could have been prevented due to the women urging authorities to take action against the men who later become their killers.
Ayşe Tuba Arslan, one of the women who could have been alive if proper punitive actions were taken, was stabbed by her former husband Yalçın Özalpay in the Central Anatolian province of Eskişehir on Oct. 11, before succumbing to her injuries on Nov. 24.
Arslan sought help from the authorities a total of 23 times, but her complaints were ignored – another common practice in Turkey.
“I complained about him [Özalpay] countless times, but couldn’t see any results despite the restraining order. I took every legal action against Yalçın Özalpay. I’m receiving death threats from him,” she penned in her last application to court.
“Will you help me when I’m dead?” she asked the authorities.