The murderer next door

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- Being a woman in Turkey, whether you’re a foreigner or Turk, can mean living with several contradictions.
It’s easy for a Westerner to come to Turkey and think it is a safe and wonderful place to visit however, unless you really understand the language and culture and make deep friendships, you do not realize the hellish lives many women are living.

Turks are good at putting on a show. You can have no idea what goes on behind closed doors. Domestic violence has been at the heart of Turkish society for a long time.

It does not matter where you are — these days it seems so hard to know whether or not you really know someone like you think you do.

This past week, no neighbor or acquaintance who was interviewed about the American teenage male suspect who stabbed 20 people at a high school near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, could imagine the quiet 10th grade teenage boy would take two kitchen knives from home and stab his fellow students and a school security guard.

Acts of violence and murder, once again, have shaken communities. Questions are being asked. Pennsylvania police say the male student doesn’t seem to have any known motive.

This past week or so, two domestic murders in Turkey occurred. The two murders raise two issues those of the problem of domestic abuse in Turkey, and the complications you can experience in a cross-cultural marriage which involves different cultures and worliews. Briefly, let me share about the Turkish couple and then the other couple.

In Adana, Sevgi Dinçer, a mother of two, was shot dead with a handgun by her husband Cemal Dinçer, from whom she had been for two years in the process of trying to obtain a divorce.

In Bodrum, on Saturday April 5, Ihsan Bora Sengir stabbed to death his American wife, Esther Parker, mother of their 16-month-old son. Sengir’s sister, who came to the couple’s house on Sunday morning, found Parker’s body and Sengir was arrested.

Whatever the nationality of any female who has been murdered by her spouse or her spouse’s family, questions should be asked and justice carried out.

One wonders what will happen to the precious children left without a mother and the father behind bars. Will the best for the child be considered?

David Buss, acclaimed psychological researcher and author of many books, writes in his book “The Murderer Next Door: Why the Mind Is Designed to Kill” that “people are mesmerized by murder. It commands our attention like no other human phenomenon, and those touched by its ugly tendrils never forget.” Truly, my heart goes out to the families of the victims.

For those of us who believe we could never murder someone, it is hard to imagine how someone who is a murderer thinks. You can’t help but wonder what drove them to it. Do they know right from wrong? Do they understand the consequences?

It seems that in Turkey, domestic violence is either becoming more public or on the rise. Elif Iafak, in her piece for The Guardian titled “Turkey opens its eyes to domestic violence” (Aug. 23, 2011), asks tough questions and states that the Justice Ministry had announced that there had been a “1,400 percent increase in the number of reported cases of violence against women.” Iafak hits the nail on the head when she writes: “Unless we change the way we raise our sons and discard our belief that they are superior to our daughters, unless we mothers stop treating our sons as the sultans in the house, nothing will be enough.”

I was pleased to read in Iafak’s piece that both print and visual media in Turkey were running story after story about domestic violence: ex-husbands who shoot their ex-wives in front of their children, abusive husbands who come back to kill, boyfriends or fiancés who cannot forgive being dumped and seek revenge.

Is there still an effort to educate citizens about domestic violence, or has it come to a halt? It was hard to find details on either of the domestic murders that occurred last week.

Emre Deliveli, columnist for the Hurriyet Daily News, in his piece “How my friend Esther became a statistic,” (April 12, 2014) shared that as he was concluding his research on determining “provincial factors explaining women’s murders,” he learned that Esther Parker, his friend and editor, had been stabbed to death by her Turkish husband. He was just 35 miles away when it happened.

Sometimes we are right next door when domestic violence takes place in a family and nothing can be done. Deliveli asked his readers, and I am asking you, to remember the victims’ families, and for Esther — please tweet #RememberEsther — in the name of all the murdered women of Turkey.