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The Rise of Femicide in Turkey

Updated: Aug 12


BY: Masuda Mahazabin



The recent murder of Pinar Gültekin has sparked outrage among many young women across Turkey. It was reported that on July 16th, Gültekin had gone missing after she was last seen waiting for a bus. Five days after her disappearance, Cemal Metin Avci, her boyfriend, confessed to killing Gültekin. She was beaten and strangled to death by Avci, who then proceeded to torch her corpse in a garbage can and cover the crime scene with concrete. Although Turkish police arrested Avci on homicide charges, the killing of Pinar Gültekin led women rights activists to call out the government for cutting back on protective legislation. Activists claim that the Turkish government has been lax in preventing violence against women.  


Since 2010, over 2,900 women have been murdered by their husbands, boyfriends and relatives in Turkey. This gender-based hate crime is known as femicide. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines femicide as the systematic murder of women and girls. Femicide falls under two broad categories: intimate and non-intimate. Intimate femicide is committed by a current or former partner whereas non-intimate femicide is committed by someone who the woman did not share an intimate partner relationship with. This could be a family member, a friend or even a stranger. The main cause of femicide isn’t just rooted in gender inequality but more so stemmed from patriarchal masculinity. Patriarchal masculinity is a term used to describe the ideas and practices of masculinity that emphasize its superiority over femininity. For instance in the workforce, in Turkey out of 26 million employable women, only 5.9 million were able to work, however, 23.4% of those women have been forced by men to quit their jobs. It’s clear that female involvement in the workforce is exceptionally low yet female involvement across other sectors such as in politics and healthcare continues to fall short in Turkey. It’s the lack of opportunities and participation, as well as the overall misconception which women are inferior to men that is condoning systemic gender-based discrimination and violence. Patriarchal masculinity has become pervasive as conservative politicians and pro-government media normalizes discrimination and violence against women. 


Throughout the years, the Turkish government has been greatly criticized for not implementing protective legislation for women in the nation. As of recently, Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made an order to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, a human rights treaty of the Council of Europe that is designed to protect victims of gender-based discrimination and domestic violence. According to activists, the Istanbul Convention is seen as the most serious, effective commitment for states to combat domestic violence and gender-based. The Istanbul Convention was first adopted and ratified in Turkey in 2011. Later in 2015, the convention was signed by 39 states and ratified by eight Council of Europe states such as Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Montenegro, Portugal, Serbia and Spain. The convention has encouraged nations to implement protective legislation for women, however, Turkey has failed to do so and is now the only nation withdrawing from the Istanbul Convention. 


Anna Blus, a women’s rights researcher at Amnesty International’s claims that “Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention would have disastrous consequences for millions of women and girls in the country and to organizations providing vital support to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence”.


It is clear that femicide is a human rights violation, stemmed from patriarchal masculinity which falls under the deeply rooted inequality between men and women. Discrimination and violence against women continues to be a prevalent issue in Turkey. Unfortunately, Turkey has now become one of the top countries in the world when it comes to femicides. If the Turkish government does not work towards implementing protective legislation and proceeds to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, women and girls will continue to be subjected to violence and will more likely die at the hands of their partners or relatives.



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