There has been public uproar and protests following the brutal killing of Pınar Gültekin, a 27-year-old university student whose body was found in the Aegean district of Muğla on Tuesday, 21 July.
She had been missing since 16 July after stepping out of her flat in Muğla. Police were able to track her movements by CCTV and arrested a man last seen with her on Monday.
The man, Cemal Metin Avcı, had initially denied any knowledge of her whereabouts. However when shown CCTV footage, he confessed to Pınar Gültekin’s murder and directed police to the location of her partly burned body in an oil drum in wooded area in the Menteşe area.
Pinar’s family received the news they were dreading on Tuesday, plunging them and the rest of Turkey into mourning that another woman’s life has been cruelly cut short.
According to media reports, Cemal Metin Avcı, 32, was Pınar’s ex-boyfriend. The now married father-of-one had apparently wanted to rekindle his relationship with the student. They had met at his work place and then visited Avcı’s country home, but when she spurned his advances, he punched her and then strangled her to death.
His confession includes gruesome details of how he tried to get rid of the body, placing Pınar in an oil drum used to burn rubbish.
He was captured on other CCTV buying to cans of fuel from a nearby petrol station, which he said he used to burn Pınar’s body. An elderly neighbour saw the flames and told Avcı off for starting a fire in hot dry conditions.
Avcı told police he dragged the container into the forest and tried to further conceal the contents by pouring cement mix over the top.
The horrific nature of Pınar’s death and the entitled attitude of her killer generated widespread anger in Turkey. Many pop and sports stars, politicians and ordinary members of the public have expressed their outrage at the murder on social media, with Pınar Gültekin’s name trending for several days.
Women have taken to the streets in Istanbul and other cities to protest the rising violence against women in the country, which on average results in at least one woman a day murdered in Turkey.
Data provided by women’s activist body We Will Stop Femicides Platform (Kadın Cinayetlerini Durduracağız Platformu) shows a significant rise in the number of women killed in Turkey. In 2013 the total was 237, rising to 294 in 2014. 303 women were murdered in 2015, 328 in 2016, 409 in 2017, and 440 in 2018.
A total of 474 women were killed in Turkey in 2019, a rise of 200% since 2013
A total of 474 women were killed in Turkey in 2019, a rise of 200% since 2013. It is thought at least 146 women have been killed in the first six months of 2020.
A mobile application called KADES, developed by the government to make the reporting of domestic violence easier, has recorded over 30,601 incidents in the past two years.
“Each day, 38 women reported being subjected to violence through the app. These are merely the women who had access to a smart phone and this application,” opposition Republican People’s Party Vice Chair Gamze Akkuş İlgezdi in a statement on July 20.
“The real data is much more overwhelming and portrays a much more devastating picture.”
Protestors remind the Turkish government that the Istanbul Convention is central to protecting women from domestic violence
#PınarGültekin ‘in davasına müdahil olacaklarını söyleyen Aile Bakanlığına hatırlatalım:
— Kadın Cinayetlerini Durduracağız Platformu (@KadinCinayeti) July 22, 2020
The murder, against such a damning backdrop, has fuelled the public’s anger, much of it directed at the Turkish government, which is accused of not doing enough to protect victims and not having a strong enough legal deterrent, with many domestic violence offenders getting off with light sentences.
Women’s groups and opposition politicians point to the government’s failure to enact the Istanbul Convention, a 2011 Council of Europe accord that aims to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence. Worse still, in recent weeks senior members of the AKP (Justice and Development Party) Government have talked about withdrawing Turkey’s signature from the accord.
AKP Deputy Chair Numan Kurtulmuş described the Istanbul Convention as “really wrong” in a July 2 television interview, claiming it had “played into the hands of LGBT and marginal elements” in Turkish society, and that it was undermining “family values”. A chorus of religious conservatives have echoed Mr Kurtulmuş’s comments, but it’s drawn a strong rebuke from women’s activitsts.
Speaking at an Istanbul rally calling for an end to violence against women, Fidan Ataselim, who heads the We Will Stop Femicides Platform, said their protests will continue until the authorities act on their demands.
“We are carrying banners for a woman we do not know. It is enough now. We want to live,” she said on Tuesday, demanding that the government implement the Istanbul Convention better.
“The solution is clear. Open and read the Istanbul Convention,” added Ataselim.
The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan led the condolences for his government and pledged on Twitter to track the case:
“I have no doubt that the murderer who killed Pınar Gültekin will receive the heaviest punishment he deserves. I will be a follower of the case personally and as the Republic of Turkey we will do whatever it requires to stop the violence against women that we never want to encounter again.”
Zehra Zumrut Selcuk, Turkey’s Minister of Family, Labour and Social Services, also tweeted about the murdered woman:
“The sadness of our daughter Pınar Gültekin, who was murdered in Mugla, has pierced through our hearts. Another life has been lost,” adding the authorities would “intervene in the case to follow the judicial process so that the murderer will get the hardest possible sentence.”
I am a woman by S. Eren-Nijhar
In the UK, author and filmmaker Semra Eren-Nijhar penned this poem in response to the news of Pınar Gültekin’s death:
- I am
And my freedom
Belongs to me
Nobody can interfere!