A Turkish court has handed down a suspended sentence to popular actress Farah Zeynep Abdullah on insult charges due to her criticism of a former soldier convicted of raping an 18-year-old Kurdish woman, the T24 news website reported.
Abdullah was convicted of insulting former noncommissioned officer Musa Orhan and given a suspended sentence of 87 days in prison, which was converted to a fine by the court.
In late 2021 Orhan was convicted of sexual assault and was given a suspended sentence of 10 years in prison on charges of raping İpek Er, an 18-year-old Kurdish woman who later died by suicide.
Women’s rights groups had found Orhan’s sentence overly lenient since it involved judicial supervision instead of actual imprisonment, accusing the justice system of “protecting a rapist” by allowing him to walk free.
Orhan’s lawyers filed lawsuits against several female celebrities who commented on the controversy on social media.
Ezgi Mola, another actress, was convicted on insult charges for calling Orhan a “low-life.”
A number of other celebrities including Abdullah became the subject of Orhan’s lawsuits after voicing support for Mola.
She also accused the authorities of allowing Orhan to use the justice system as a “means of living.”
Femicides and violence against women are chronic problems in Turkey, where women are killed, raped or beaten almost every day.
According to the We Will Stop Femicide Platform, at least 315 women were murdered by men and 248 women died under suspicious circumstances throughout 2023.
Many critics say the main reason behind the situation is the policies of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, which protects violent and abusive men by granting them impunity.
Turkish courts have repeatedly drawn criticism due to their tendency to hand down lenient sentences to offenders, claiming that the crime was “motivated by passion” or by interpreting victims’ silence as consent.
In a move that attracted national and international outrage, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan through a presidential decree pulled the country out of an international treaty in March 2021 that requires governments to adopt legislation prosecuting perpetrators of domestic violence and similar abuse as well as marital rape and female genital mutilation.
The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention, is an international accord designed to protect women’s rights and prevent domestic violence in societies and was opened to the signature of Council of Europe member countries in 2011.
Erdoğan’s allies have been calling for further rollbacks, urging the repeal of a domestic law that stipulates protection mechanisms for women who either have suffered or are at risk of suffering violence.