Jailed journalist Sedef Kabaş says women often subjected to violence in Turkey

Prominent TV journalist Sedef Kabaş, who has been behind bars since January 22, in a letter from prison said women have a difficult time in Turkey and are often subjected to violence.

The letter was published by the Duvar news website and said Turkey was a patriarchal society and that women who demanded freedom and equality were targeted for overstepping their boundaries.

“Violence against women is at a level where it can happen in the middle of the street, in the workplace, at school, and at home,” Kabaş said. “Women are killed in broad daylight and with little consequence. Despite all this, the government withdrew from the Istanbul Convention.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sparked outrage in Turkey and the international community after he issued a decree in March 2021 that pulled the country out of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention, which requires governments to adopt legislation prosecuting perpetrators of domestic violence and similar abuse as well as marital rape and female genital mutilation.

“What kind of a system leaves women unprotected in the face of violence and incarcerates those women who are seeking equality?” Kabaş said.

Kabaş was detained during a midnight police raid in İstanbul on January 22 following comments she made about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on a TV program aired on TELE1 on Jan. 14.

Commenting on Erdoğan’s years-long performance as president during the television program, Kabaş said, quoting a Circassian proverb, “When an [ox] enters a palace, it doesn’t become a king. [However], that palace becomes a barn.”

Kabaş also posted the proverb on Twitter, which prompted an investigation into her on charges of insulting the president.

Kabaş was charged with insulting the president and insulting a public official in an indictment drafted in February, which seeks a maximum sentence of 12 years, 10 months.

The public officials whom Kabaş is accused of insulting in the indictment, accepted by the İstanbul 36th Criminal Court of First Instance, are Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu and Transportation Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu.

The court has scheduled the first hearing of the trial for March 11.

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