Report: 409 women killed, 387 children sexually abused in Turkey in 2017

A total of 409 women were killed and 387 children sexually abused in Turkey in 2017, according to data compiled by the “We Will Stop Femicide” women’s rights activist platform. Some 337 women were also subjected to sexual violence, said the organization’s report, which used figures from 2017. According to the report, some 45 women were killed by their family members and 41 children were sexually abused in December 2017 alone.

In 2016, 328 women were killed, and in 2015, 303 women were killed, according to the platform’s previous reports. A total of 10 children were killed by their fathers in 2016, according to the report.

According to a report by Hürriyet daily news on Tuesday, 88 women were killed in 2017 because they had decided to choose how to live their lives, and 30 were killed because they wanted a divorce. Some 134 suspicious female deaths and 110 undetected female murders also took place in the same year.

The age range of the women killed decreased in 2017. A total of 65 women in the 15-25 age group were killed in 2017.

The place with the most murders of women in 2017 was İstanbul with 57 incidents, followed by the western province of İzmir with 32 incidents, the Mediterranean province of Antalya with 25, the Marmara province of Bursa with 18, the southern province of Adana with 17, the southeastern province of Gaziantep with 15 and the central Anatolian province of Konya with 12.

The 2017 report also mentioned atrocities involving child abuse and violence against women that occurred during the year. In the eastern province of Van, a newborn baby weighing four kilograms was killed after being sexually abused. In the Marmara province of Yalova, a five-year-old girl kidnapped from a playground was found dead five days after she went missing. Her corpse showed signs of rape.

In the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, a 37-year-old father raped his nine-year-old daughter over a one-month period, the report said. The rapist father said his daughter had a “constipation” problem, according to the report.

In another incident, a girl suffered harassment from a taxi driver as she went to a bakery to buy bread. “You can’t go to buy bread with those shorts. The bread is forbidden to you. Everything that passes through your throat is forbidden to you. Tell your father that he must tell you how to dress,” the taxi driver said.

In December 2017, a 20-year-old university student living in Ankara was harassed on her way home because she was wearing shorts.

In the western province of Uşak, a 16-year-old woman sexually abused by her fiancée became pregnant. She had to give birth in a public bathroom because she was frightened of her own family.

Another statistic featured in the report concerned abuse of children, which said at least 387 minors were victims of sexual abuse in their homes, dormitories and schools. It added that 20 children were killed in 2017, and in half of these cases perpetrators were fathers.

The report said that the ongoing state of emergency, imposed after a controversial coup attempt in July 15, 2016, is among the primary reasons of the rise in violence against women.

Despite efforts and public campaigns, violence against women continues to be grave problem in Turkey, with the number of victims rising steadily. Lack of implementation of anti-violence laws by law enforcement and lack of coordination between different government agencies are often cited among the primary deficiencies in regard to the the state in the issue, whereas economic conditions and terror are also noted as side causes.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s state religious authority has stated that girls are able to spiritually marry and become pregnant from the age of nine, according to its website. “It is necessary for a person at risk of entering illegitimate (sexual) relations to marry,” the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) said, adding that any young person who had reached the age of puberty could marry.

The minimum age was nine for girls and 12 for boys, since these were the ages at which they would be able to become parents, it said.

However, according to Turkish law, the minimum possible age of marriage is 16, and even then only with an exceptional legal decision. Ordinarily couples must wait until both parties are 17 with parental permission, or 18 without.

“A woman who has reached the age of puberty may be able to marry herself off without her guardian, but it is recommended that her guardian also be there,” according to Diyanet advice. Marriage is necessary in order to prevent fornication according to religious rules and continue the human race, the Diyanet website said.

However, Diyanet has denied saying girls are able to marry and become pregnant from the age of nine, the BBC’s Turkish service website said. It said the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) had issued a statement saying that news reports saying it had said such a thing were false and did not represent the truth. The news reports quoted the Diyanet’s website as saying that any person who had reached the age of puberty could marry.

“Islamic lawyers determined that the minimum puberty age is nine for girls and 12 for boys,” the website says. The relevant page of the Diyanet website was still accessible on Wednesday.

The Diyanet’s statement said that even though a woman who had reached puberty could marry, it said that marrying a girl who does not have the responsibility to be a mother and had not reached psychological and biological maturity was not allowed by Islam.

Meanwhile, Family and Social Policy Minister of Turkey,  Fatma Betül Kaya, has stated that divorce rates are at a low in Turkey. “Divorce rates are at their lowest numbers in six years,” Kaya said. “Of course, this is an issue that is in our ministry’s field of work.”

Among her ministry’s anti-divorce initiatives were a pilot project of pre-marital education, which she said would be expanded in 2018. “We aim to reach much lower (divorce) rates,” Kaya said.

Another pilot project put electronic tracking devices on abusive spouses, she said, and this had now spread to six different provinces.

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