Written by: J. Laura
Disclaimer: this article contains violent descriptions.
The World Health Organization (WHO) described femicide as the act of intentionally murdering a woman because they are women.
Gender-based violence is a threat to all women and girls around the world, as about 66,000 women and girls are killed every year, of which 17% of all victims were intentional, according to the Small Arms Survey. Thus, femicide should be taken under the spotlight for awareness and further discussion.
The WHO also mentioned that violence against women could take many different forms, from verbal harassment, to daily physical or sexual abuse.
The United Nation Economic and Social Council further reported that targeting and killing women and girls in the name of “honor,” because of their sexual orientation, during an armed conflict, or simply because they are Indigineous or Aboriginal women and girls could also be considered as femicides.
Femicides are usually perpetrated by men, though sometimes family members and close relatives may be involved in the killings and harassments, WHO indicated.
In the United Kingdom alone, the Femicide Census, a resource for information on femicides, published a report in February 2020 stating that in 2018, there were 149 women killed by 147 men. Out of all the femicides reported, 94% of them were committed by a man known to the victim.
They recorded that the youngest victim was just 14 years old.
At the time the report was finalized, the Femicide Census mentioned that there were still 17 cases that remained unsolved.
In a report published in 2012, Small Arms Survey — a research institute based in Switzerland — indicated that topping the list of the highest average of femicide rates between 2004-2009 were in El Salvador (at 12 femicides per 100,000 female population), followed by Jamaica (at 11 per 100,000) and Guatemala (at 10 per 100,000).
One of the most recent stories of femicide was the murder of Pinar Gültekin, Leah Rodriquez of Global Citizens reported.
Pinar Gültekin, a 27 year old Turkish woman, was reported to have been killed in the hands of her ex-boyfriend on July 21st, 2020, Umut Uras of Al Jazeera said.
Gültekin’s autopsy results showed that she was strangled to death by her ex-boyfriend Cemal Metin Avcis, whom she had rejected. Her body was reportedly placed in a barrel and burned by him and had concrete poured on it, though Avcis also tried to hide it behind the woods after she was killed, Rodriquez and Uras explained.
At first, Gültekin, who was also an economics student at Mugla Sitki Kocman University, was reported to be missing for five days since July 16th, according to TRT World.
Her former partner was reported to be a bar manager in a resort town, Akyaka. He was arrested and confessed to the killing during police questioning on July 21st, TRT World and Hürriyet Daily News indicated.
The death and killing of Gültekin marked the 50th known murder of women in Turkey in 2020 alone, Rodriquez of Global Citizen reported.
In response, the #kadınaşiddetehayır (Say no to violence against women) and #istanbulsözleşmesiyaşatır (Enforce the Istanbul Convention) campaign hit social media.
After the death of Gültekin, Turkish feminists and activists have flooded social media with black and white photos with the intention to spread awareness of the femicide rate and violence towards Turkish women, Vox reported. Photos are accompanied with captions to show “support for female empowerment,” Vox said.
On the other hand, the Istanbul Convention is an initiative aiming to protect women against all forms of violence. They aim to eliminate violence against women, whilst providing support and assistance to organizations and law enforcement agencies.
However, the conservative sects of the Turkish people and media are skeptical about this movement. Though this initiative could be a useful tool to eliminate violence against women, a nationwide debate rose on its usefulness or whether it is a threat to traditional Turkish family values, Serkan Demirtaş of Hürriyet Daily News argued.
Demirtaş reported that the politically-right and religious Turkish sects have played a major role in pressuring Turkey’s withdrawal of the convention, as they argued that the convention will destroy unity of family and “paves the way for the recognition of LGBT groups.”
However, supporters of this movement argued that the convention could indeed prevent an increase in domestic violence in Turkey, and has no provision promoting LGBT way of life, Demirtaş explained further.
The supporters of the movement indicated further that the Turkish conservative groups and sects have no respect for gender equality.
A research from Dumlupinar University and Marmara University authored by Fatma Basar and Nurdan Demirci identified that between the year 2015 and 2016, 41.3% of women in Turkey have experienced domestic violence, of which 89.2% had been subjected by their spouses.
Of the women exposed to violence, 44.8% were exposed to physical violence; 67.7% to emotional, 13.4% to sexual, 74.3% to verbal, and 18.5% to economic violence, Basar and Demirci indicated.
Economic violence is defined by the European Institute of Gender Equality as the act of causing financial harm. It can take many forms, including “property damage, restricting access to financial resources, education or the labor market, or not complying with economic responsibilities, such as alimony.”
Turkish women have had a long history over the fight for women’s rights. Sirin Tekeli of the Association for the Support and Training of Women Candidates (KADER) in Turkey, mentioned in a report that women’s movement have dated back in the early 20th century as female activists have demanded and abolished polygamy and repudiation.
Afterwards, the fight over women’s rights advanced gradually as discriminatory laws have been reformed, Takeli mentioned.
However, “there is a long road ahead to reach a change in mentality and values in society,” she cited. “Today, the main objective is to increase the visibility of women, mostly in public areas,” she continued.
Clearly, there is still a long fight for Turkish women, as the Turkish government and political parties will have to compromise with the Turkish people for the protection and rights of women.