Turkey ranks high in murders of women and transgender people

violence against women

Turkey’s ‘Stop the Murder of Women Platform’ has reported that a total of 38 women were killed in the country in January.

Most of the murders took place in the western province of Izmir, where six women were killed, followed by Istanbul, Balikesir, Trabzon and Sanliurfa (in the country’s southeast) where three women were murdered in each province.

The platform said it could not determine whether all of the murdered women had state protection but said 8% of the women killed in January were trying to protect another woman, when they were attacked.

Ozgecan Aslan, a teenage student, was mutilated and burned in southern Turkey after a rape attempt on 11 February 2015.

After Aslan’s death, tens of thousands of protesters, mostly women, poured onto the streets across the country to protest against rising violence against women and the government’s failure to respond.

Hande Kader, an LGBTI rights activist and transgender person, was found in a forest in Istanbul on 8 August 2016. The 22-year-old’s body was believed to have been heavily mutilated before her corpse was set on fire, possibly to avoid identification of the perpetrator or perpetrators. No arrests have yet been made in Kader’s case.

Kader’s murder did not cause similar large-scale protests as Aslan’s did because she was a LGBTI person, say LGBTI organisations in Turkey.

In a report published in March in 2016, Turkey had the highest rate of trans murders in Europe, said Transgender Europe.

Between January 2008 and December 2015, 41 trans and gender-diverse individuals were killed in Turkey, compared with the second highest in Italy of 33, the group said.

“These data clearly show that women are not protected by the state. 31% of the women were killed because they wanted to divorce, end a relationship or simply because they wanted to make a decision regarding their lives,” the Stop the Murder of Women Platform said in its report.

Women’s rights organisations have for years been trying to raise awareness about the rise in violence against women that has taken place in the last decade.

According to local reports, between 2003 and 2010 there had been a 1,400% increase. Many opposition think that this is linked to the policies or rhetoric of the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey, which has its roots in political Islam and has been in power since 2002.