The murder of Pinar Gültekin
The body of 27-year-old student Pinar Gültekin was found in a forest in Mugla province, Turkey, on Tuesday, July 21. Five days had passed without news of her: the last time they had seen her, she was at a bus stop. Pinar Gültekin was beaten and strangled by her former partner, Cemal Metin Avci. He later burned her body in a garbage can and covered it with cement. The 32-year-old man has been arrested, charged with murder.
The protests in Turkey
The news has rocked all of Turkey, sparking protests on the street and social media. The hashtag #pınargueltekin has more than 35,000 mentions and they held a vigil for Gültekin and the victims of femicides in Istanbul and in other Turkish cities. Numerous personalities of the country are pronouncing themselves on the case. Among them, the family minister Zehra Zümrüt Selçuk, who in a statement on Twitter referred to Pinar as “our daughter”.
The majority of the Turkish population (both women and men, especially the younger ones) have joined the protests against femicides, whose numbers in the country are alarming. In the past ten years, more than 2,500 women have been killed, 474 last year alone.
A spiral of violence
During the confinement, 21 women were murdered, 14 in their own homes. During the month of July alone, there were already 40. But the problem does not end there. They estimated that, since 2010, half a million girls would have had to marry before the age established by law. 38% of women stated that they had experienced at least one form of violence by their partner.
The protests that are taking place these days are not only to remember the victims of a system that continues to generate violence of this kind. It is also against the government and President Erdogan, accused of not taking action with adequate laws and sentences; in fact, to further aggravate the situation, they have proposed new provisions that would further fuel the problem. Under investigation is a recent bill that would avoid sentencing sex offenders to marry their victims, the so-called “restorative marriage.”
The Istanbul Convention
In addition, in 2011 Turkey signed the Istanbul Convention. It is a legally binding international treaty promoted by the Council of Europe to prevent and combat gender-based violence. Nevertheless, associations working for women’s rights in the country have long been denouncing the lack of government action to implement the Agreement. In fact, the most conservative institutions in Turkish society pressured the government not to allow these provisions to undermine the traditional family structure and associated values.
In the framework of this wave of outrage, some people have associated the recent initiative to publish black and white photos of women with the hashtags #womensupportingwomen and #ChallengeAccepted to the protests against sexist violence that have taken place after the Gültekin murder. Although, as we read in the New York Times, it is not entirely clear if there is a link between the two things. There are several different theories around the origin of this viral challenge. In any case, it is important to talk about what happened to Pinar Gültekin and the protests organized in Turkey as a result of her case to help raise awareness about a problem affecting women around the world. We hope that the long-awaited change takes place and that acts of this kind disappear at once.