Activists raise their voices on international day to end violence against women

Demonstrations were held in İstanbul, Ankara, Balıkesir, Diyarbakır and other cities throughout the country on Wednesday. Members of the We Will Stop the Murders of Women platform, joined by Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputies, called for greater government efforts to put an end to the killing of women, with the “Ozgecan Aslan Law” at the forefront of their demands.

The proposed law was given its unofficial name to commemorate a young university student who was brutally murdered when she resisted rape in February. If passed, it would prohibit judges from reducing a man’s sentence for having been “provoked” to murder. In many cases, men are given shortened sentences after killing their wives or romantic partners if they suspect them of having been unfaithful, legitimizing murder as a response to infidelity.

During the İstanbul demonstration, which was held outside the İstanbul Courthouse, spokesperson Gulsum Kav highlighted the government’s insufficient efforts to end these incidents. She made note of the recent murder of Dr. Aynur Dagdemir in Samsun, who was killed when intervening in a quarrel between her secretary and her secretary’s ex-husband. When the former couple became involved in an argument at the Private Anadolu Hospital where Dagdemir and her secretary worked, Yusuf D. stabbed the physician several times, taking her life.

At least 1,134 women have been murdered by men in Turkey over the last five years and over 50 percent of these murders have been committed by the woman’s husband or ex-husband, according to Kadın Cinayetleri (Murder of Women, kadincinayetleri.org), which tracks media reports of such incidents.

In the capital, the CHP’s Mahmut Tanal spoke in Parliament on the matter of men receiving decreased sentences for the murder of women in such cases, an issue that continues to plague the country on a daily basis, and how these low punishments do little to discourage others from committing the same crime. There is an ongoing pattern of judges giving decreased sentences to men for “good behavior” or for when the men defend that they were “incited” to kill.

Tanal said that according to Article 10 of the Constitution: “Women and men have equal rights. The State shall have the obligation to ensure that this equality exists in practice.” He also stated that according to Article 81 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) on qualified forms of felonious homicide, the offender is to be sentenced to heavy life imprisonment when this offense is committed against a spouse or family member. Tanal then emphasized that men who kill their wives should not be receiving reduced sentences.

In other measures taken by the CHP, İstanbul deputy Didem Engin submitted a parliamentary question to Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag and Interior Minister Efkan Ala. Engin asked Bozdag how many cases there were of men receiving decreased sentences for “good conduct, unjust provocation or respectable attitude.” To Ala, she asked what the current situation of functioning women’s shelters were and how many there are in the country.

This year alone, 255 women were killed between Jan. 1 and Nov. 23, according to bianet.org. Of this figure, 9 percent of women had previously filed official complaints against these men, asked for security protection or stayed in women’s shelters. Some of the complaints were filed, others were not taken seriously and some were retracted by the women due to threats. Of these women, 18.5 percent were killed because they wanted to separate from their partner, because they did not want to reconcile with their partner, because they did not want to engage in a relationship with the perpetrator or because they wanted to leave their home.

SOURCE: TODAY’S ZAMAN

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