Local activists say that the media as well as advertising and religious institutes propagate sexism " />

Turkey: murder and violence against women on the rise

Local activists say that the media as well as advertising and religious institutes propagate sexism

Photo: David Pipia, JAMnews


wenty-six-year-old Dilek Yardim was the mother of two daughters. The older daughter was not even four, while the younger one had barely turned two years old. Why do we speak of them in the past tense? Because her husband, from whom she had been in the process of obtaining a divorce, first killed their daughters and then himself.

This horrible incident took place on 3 January in Istanbul, in the Maltep neighbourhood in the rented apartment of 29-year-old Ali Yardim.

The divorce proceedings had been ongoing since the summer. Dilek had filed for divorce because her husband had beaten her from the first day of marriage, and had even on one occasion wounded her with a knife.

In 2017, 238 women and 4 girls were killed in Turkey

The relevant government structures took Dilek under their protection. Ali was forbidden from approaching her. Dilek demanded that her daughters also be taken into protection, however the state did not consent. Moreover, the court allowed Ali to meet with his daughters once a week in his own home under police supervision and without Dilek’s presence.

Dilek was unable to convince anybody – neither the state, nor her own relatives – that this might be dangerous for the girls. Everyone said that the father had the right to see his daughters.

During one of these meetings, Ali took the girls home and then a little while later called Dilek and said: “I killed your daughters. Are you happy now?

Dilek immediately called the police, and immediately headed v out to Ali’s apartment. But it was too late. Ali had first killed the two girls with a gun, and then himself.

This case is, for Turkey, both typical and atypical at the same time. Violence against women who have decided to get a divorce from their husbands is not uncommon in this country. The atypical nature of this case can be found in the fact that her husband decided to kill her children instead of her in protest against the divorce.


iolence against women often has a lethal outcome. It is one of the most serious problems in Turkey these days. In 2017 alone, 238 women and 4 girls were murdered. The number of cases increases year by year and takes on ever more horrific forms.

Several public organisations who are involved with women’s rights created the website www.kadincinayetleri.org (Tur. Murder of women) where statistics on female homicide, a map of the committed crimes, info on murderers and also the reasons for these murders are presented.

Citing this site, CNN Türk writes that from 2010 to 2017, 1 915 women have been killed in the country, of which 62% (1 193) were killed by either a spouse or a partner. Another 213 women were killed by either their fathers, sons or brothers, and another 114 were killed by other male relatives.

The reasons for such murders warrants a separate mention. A minimum of 395 murders were committed after a woman expressed her desire to separate or get a divorce. In other cases, the murder was often motivated by a suspicion of cheating or jealousy. But the following reasons are also named: ‘She added tomato paste to the food’, ‘she infringed upon his manhood’, ‘she complained about her husband’ and ‘didn’t want to give him the password to her phone’.

The most common age group (751 of the women) was 26-40 years old. The second most common age group was 40-55 years old.


n January 2018, Turkish authorities uncovered a murder which had been committed in March of 2017 in the Van province. The body of an 18-year-old woman was found with 32 knife wounds – she was identified only as G. A. The girl’s relatives and friends said that her former partner had been threatening her. The man was arrested, but three months later he was acquitted and found not guilty.

On 15 January, Van law enforcement officers arrested the man again along with three of his friends. This time around, the murderer confessed.

He said that he and G.A. had been walking about, when he jokingly slapped her on the face. In response, the girl cursed his dead mother, which infuriated the young man and he stabbed her. Then, he called his three friends in order to check whether the girl was really dead or not. They then left the site of the incident.


he Centre for Psychiatry in Turkey made a statement on 25 November 2017, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women:

“Violence is not unavoidable. It can be prevented, and this is especially important for the lives of girls.”

The Centre believes that all of society and the state must be mobilized in order to deal with this problem.

The Centre believes that the media and advertisers propagate sexism, and that religion is often used as an excuse for the violence of men towards women.

“States do not fulfill the demands of international conventions against violence towards women. Moreover, all layers of society must be mobilized. They must conduct campaigns for gender equality, workshops in schools and for teachers and for students as well. Projects which strengthen the economic independence of women must be a part of the process as well,” reads the Centre’s statement.

“A way of solving problems that one often sees is the carrying out of marriages between a rapist and his victim, and sometimes this can be an underage girl. In this case, the punishment for the rapist is decreased. But this cannot be accepted as logical or moral,” says well-known Turkish psychiatrist Arif Verimli.

The Centre for Psychiatry in Turkey has called on the public to get involved in its initiative to put forward changes to the legislation. Some of the main amendments to the law include:

•  To not accept ‘an unfair provocation’ and certain other defenses as a ‘mitigating circumstance’ in the murder of a woman;

• To eliminate leniency in sentencing in the event of a marriage between the victim and her rapist;

• Take away the right to conduct marriages from muftis [religious officials].

More on JAMnews