Honor Related Violence (Turkey)

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Statistics on Honor Related Violence and Killings

According to governmental statistics, at least two hundred (200) die in the name of honor each year; this number constitutes half of all murders in Turkey (Navai 2009, 1). In Istanbul alone, at least one person dies as a result of honor killing weekly (Black 2008, 3).
A June 2008 report by Turkey's Human Rights Directorate says that in Istanbul alone, there is one honour killing every week and over 1,000 were killed during the last five years.
'Honour' killing: It's a global phenomenon
The Times of India, July 11, 2010
A survey carried out among university students on honour killings showed that in two universities around 30 percent of students thought such crimes were normal. In other universities the rate ranged from 3 to 19 percent.
Türkische Studenten halten Ehrenmorde für legitim
Christoph Schlingensief, Welt Online, October 27, 2006

Turkish Penal Code

In Turkey there is the growing issue of honor suicide. Women's groups say that a growing number of "dishonored" girls are being locked in a room for days with rat poison, a pistol or a rope, and told by their families the only thing resting between their disgrace and redemption is death. This practice is also known as forced suicide.

Human rights groups state the recent trend of forced suicides is an unintended and sinister consequence of the EU's pressure on Turkey to stiffen it's punishments against honor killings.

Cemse Allak and Hila Acil, Stoned to death, December 2002

Last month a woman named Cemse Allak was buried in a corner of a municipal cemetery here. Ms. Allak, unmarried and pregnant, had died from a stoning.

Villagers and local lawyers said Ms. Allak -- as well as the man who had made her pregnant -- had been killed to restore the honor of their families.

For seven months after her stoning, Ms. Allak lay semi-conscious, her skull crushed, unable to move or speak. Still, according to the people who watched over her, Ms. Allak was capable of expressing a wide range of emotions with her eyes.

Relatives visited once, in the beginning, to tell the hospital staff that they could not pay for her care. The fetus inside Ms. Allak died six weeks after the attack.

When Ms. Allak died on June 7, no one from her family claimed her body, and none of her relatives attended the funeral.
. . .

Much of Cemse Allak's story has been lost in a whirl of conflicting versions of her death. By most accounts, Ms. Allak fell victim to the age-old honor code that survives in the villages of southeastern Turkey, a system so unforgiving that some villagers here said they were relieved to learn of Ms. Allak's death. If she had survived, the villagers said, the family of the man who had been killed with her would have been obliged to take revenge on Ms. Allak's family, since it was Ms. Allak's brother who was suspected of his murder.

"When the girl Cemse died, the matter was closed," said Shelalettin Cakar, a local farmer. "In such cases, if one dies and the other lives, it is not equal. So it was better for both of them to die."

Ms. Allak's brother, Mehmet, as well as four other relatives, have been charged in the murder of the man, Hila Acil, who was stoned to death at the same time in a field outside town.
. . .
According to accounts from Ms. Allak's family and other people in Yaylim, the incident began when Mr. Acil dropped Ms. Allak's father off at work, and then returned to the Allak house where he apparently found Ms. Allak alone. What happened next is unclear, but Ms. Allak, whom neighbors described as a quiet and unassuming woman, became pregnant.

Some members of Ms. Allak's family said she had been raped; others in the town suggested that the two had engaged in consensual sex. Conversations with villagers and family members made clear that many saw little difference between the two. Villagers who conceded that Ms. Allak might have been raped said that she had still brought shame upon her family.

"Rape is wrong in every case," said Baki Allak, a cousin, as he stood at the top of the gorge where the two people were stoned. Nonetheless, he added, "the family was dishonored."

In an interview, Mr. Demirkesen, Mehmet Allak's lawyer, said his client had killed Mr. Acil and Ms. Allak. He said Mr. Allak had not followed the couple into the gorge with murder on his mind, but he said the two men got into a physical confrontation when Mr. Acil insulted his sister. Ms. Allak, according to Mr. Demirkesen, stepped in front of one of the stones that Mr. Allak threw at Mr. Acil.

"It was an accident," he said.

Dr. Adnan Ceviz, a neurosurgeon who treated Ms. Allak, dismissed the notion that her skull had been crushed unintentionally. The side of her head, he said, had been struck over and over in the same place.

"She was thrown to the ground," Dr. Ceviz said in an interview. "This was not an accident."

The stoning of Mr. Acil and Ms. Allak appeared to follow in the tradition of recm, which is, according to villagers here, the religiously sanctioned trial and stoning of a dishonored woman or man by an entire village.
. . .

Mr. Demirkesen, the lawyer for Mr. Allak, wondered why Ms. Allak's case had generated such publicity.

"There are a lot more interesting honor killings than this one," he said, and then proceeded to tell of four other such killings that he knew of in recent years in the area.

In the months that Ms. Allak lay in the hospital, her neighbors in the village said they grew concerned that her survival would set off a vendetta between the Allaks and the Acils. If Mr. Allak had indeed killed Mr. Acil, and if Ms. Allak survived, then the Acil family would be obliged under local tradition to take vengeance.

In February, the Allak and Acil families met for a "peace dinner" to try to obviate the need for a revenge killing. A picture of the families eating together appeared in the Independent Agenda, a local newspaper. The headline read, "Peace Established in Honor Killing."

"We were trying to make sure that the incident caused no further harm," said Mehmet Itok, a cousin.

Hence the relief expressed by villagers when Ms. Allak finally died.

"If both of them did not die, the vendetta would have gone on for years," the pistachio farmer said.

Though Ms. Allak's family did not visit her in the hospital, many women did. Over the months several women from Kamer, a women's association in Diyarbakir, where Ms. Allak was hospitalized, brought her medicine, helped wash her and pushed her wheelchair around the hospital grounds.

One of the women, Hayriye Ascioglu, said that Ms. Allak's face would brighten as soon as she entered the room, and that Ms. Allak's eyes would follow her as she walked around. When nurses trimmed Ms. Allak's fingernails, she would pull back her hands in pain.

"I would say to her, 'If you hear me, blink,'" said Ms. Ascioglu. "And she would blink."

Under Turkish law, a deceased person must remain unburied for up to two weeks to give a family time to claim the body. Ms. Allak's death appeared in the papers; still, no one from the family came to get her body.

Guldunya Toren, shot to death, February 26, 2004

A Turkish woman has been murdered in an Istanbul hospital where she was already being treated for injuries sustained in a so-called honour attack.

Hospital sources told BBC News Online that Guldunya Toren, 24, was being treated after being shot and left for dead, when the second attack happened.

After the first attack, which happened on Wednesday, she told journalists she feared for her life.

Early on Thursday morning a man claiming to be a relative told staff he wanted to visit her, before shooting her dead.
Güldünya Tören’s brothers, İrfan and Ferit Tören, killed their sister in an attempt to “cleanse their family honor” in İstanbul in 2004. then 22, had a child with her boyfriend before marriage.

Tören's brothers then attempted to kill her. She escaped her brothers’ first murder attempt, but was later shot dead by her brothers at a hospital where she was receiving treatment.
. . .
Following the birth of her baby, Tören had sought refuge from her family at a police station in İstanbul, where she was promised by police that she would “not be killed.” However, police then sent Tören to the home of her uncle, Mehmet Tören, in the Fatih district, where she was later attacked by her brothers.

She escaped the attack and was taken to Bakırköy State Hospital with serious injuries. In her testimony delivered to police at the hospital, Güldünya said her brothers had tried to kill her, but added that she would not file a complaint. Two days after the first attack, Tören’s two brothers then shot her in the head twice.

Tören, who left her village in Bitlis and moved to her uncle’s home in İstanbul, in her testimony on Oct. 8, 2003 said she had filed a complaint against her uncle, who she alleged had threatened her with death.

Naile Erdas, shot to death, 2006

A Turkish court sentenced five members of the same family to life imprisonment for the "honour killing" of Naile Erdas, 16, who got pregnant as a result of rape, activists said Monday.

In its verdict, a court in the eastern city of Van sentenced the murder victim's brother to life in jail for the 2006 murder to cleanse the family honour, the Van Women's Association said.

The girl's father, mother and two uncles were also given life sentences for instigating the murder, while a third uncle was jailed for 16 years and eight months for failing to report the murder in one of the heaviest sentences handed down in Turkey for such a killing.

"We can say this verdict is a first in terms of the harshness of the sentences and the fact that the entire family was convicted," Mazlum Bagli, a researcher into honour killings at the Dicle University, said.

Zelal Ozgokce of the Van Women's Association also welcomed the sentence as an appropriate deterrent. "It is very good that the entire family was punished for the crime," she said. "It will serve as a deterrent. People will become aware that they will face the consequences of an honour killing."

Erdas became pregnant as a result of a rape but concealed her condition until she was hospitalised for a severe headache, when doctors determined she was pregnant.

When the family made threats and offered bribes to get the girl back, doctors decided to keep her in the hospital and informed police and the prosecutor's office.

One week after Erdas gave birth, the prosecutor agreed to send her home after the girl's father promised she would not be harmed. But she was shot dead by her brother a few hours after returning home.

In "honour killings", generally prevalent among Turkey's Kurdish community, a so-called family council names a member to murder a female relative considered to have sullied the family honour. In most cases this is because of an extra-marital affair.

But there have been cases where those killed have been rape victims or women who simply talked to strange men or requested a song on the radio.

Zulfinar Baycinar, shot to death, May 2006

ZULFINAN BAYCINAR died from a bullet in her back. Her husband's family went into mourning for the 27-year-old's "tragic suicide". She was very happy, they said, they can't imagine what got into her.

But now Baycinar's husband is on trial for murder. Prosecutors say she was killed because she dared to oppose against her husband's wish to take a second wife, refusing to bow to tradition and know her place.

Such mysterious "suicides" have always been treated with suspicion in southeast Turkey, but they have increased so dramatically in recent months that the UN has launched an inquiry. Yakin Erturk, its special rapporteur on violence against women, is visiting the region to investigate Mrs Baycinar's case and other allegations that women deemed to have sullied a family's "honour" are being ordered to kill themselves.
. . .
She says that where once there would be the occasional whiff of suspicion surrounding a suicide, now she hears of odd cases almost every other day.

"There have been around 20 suicides that we know of just in the Van region this year. Last year there were 45 the whole year and around 80 in the years between 2000 and 2003. There are many cases of overdoses and several like Zulfinan's, where women are said to have shot themselves in physically impossible ways."
Honour suicides: death by a bullet in the back
Suna Erdem, The Times Online, May 25, 2006

Tugba Tunc, shot with a shotgun and fell into coma for two weeks, June 5, 2006

Tugba Tunc, who is a Swedish citizen, was shot in the Doga Park in Turkey in a suspected honour killing attempt.

Tugba came to Sweden from Turkey when she was very young. She was helping her parents to look after three other children. She could not finish her high-school studies because of the problems at home. Then her family asked her to go back to Turkey and marry her cousin.

On 21st April 2006 she flew to Turkey along with one of her brothers. When relatives put pressure on Tugba to marry her cousin, she refused, and as a consequence she was threatened with death. On 5th June 2006 she arranged a date with her boyfriend in a secret place in the park (pictured above). There she was shot with a shotgun and fell into coma for two weeks. Unfortunately, her travel insurance expired just the day before shooting and she was in a very difficult financial situation.

A close friend of hers, a Swedish girl named Stina Bengtsson made a big effort to find legal and financial assistance to her. Tugba’s uncle did his best to help her too; he borrowed money and provided 65 blood bags. The Swedish foreign ministry agreed to give her a loan in order to cover her hospital expenses in Turkey. But there was not enough money to pay for her flight back to Sweden. Her friend Stina succeeded in convincing the insurance company to help Tugba on a humanitarian basis.
. . .

Tugba is still in the hospital. She told one journalist that two days before the shooting her aunt told her: "you either marry my son or die" (I would rather die, she answered). It is believed that she is silent about the details of the event, because she worries about her uncle (father’s brother). The uncle has been very kind and helpful and she is afraid if she speaks up her uncle may end up in trouble.

Esra Aksel, killed, December 2006

In December 2006, 19-year-old Esra Aksel was killed by her brother who got enraged when Aksel picked up the phone to talk to her boyfriend. Her brother, Ahmet Aksel, later confessed he killed his sister to "restore the family's honor." He was sentenced to 15 years.

Asya (Maria) Ahmad Muhammad and her family, beaten and threatened with death, July 9, 2006

A Christian child has been sentenced to five years in juvenile detention in Northern Iraq for fatally stabbing her Muslim uncle while he beat her for converting to Christianity, her lawyer said.

Judge Satar Sofe convicted 14-year-old Asya Ahmad Muhammad of murder at the trial’s first hearing on February 7 in Dohuk’s juvenile court.

Muhammad’s defense lawyer appealed the ruling on February 17, questioning Sofe’s conclusion that the killing had been intentional.“The court should consider Maria’s [Muhammad’s Christian name] case unintentional killing because she didn’t intend to kill her uncle,” Akram Mikhael Al-Najar told Compass.

The lawyer said Muhammad’s five-year sentence was light, considering that Iraq’s penal code invokes the death penalty for committing murder.

“Since her uncle provoked her and kicked and abused her, the court appreciated these situations and decreased her punishment,” Al-Najar said. The lawyer expects the Kurdish regional Court of Cassation, northern Iraq’s highest court, to rule on the appeal within three months.

Even if the appeal is turned down, Al-Najar told Compass that Muhammad could be released after serving only three quarters of her five-year sentence.

Muhammad stabbed her paternal uncle with a kitchen knife last July when he came to her family’s kitchen utensil store on the outskirts of Dohuk and began beating her, her mother and younger brother.

Sayeed Muhammad’s Muslim family claimed that he attacked his relatives in order to restore “honor” supposedly lost because his female in-laws were working in public. But Asya Muhammad’s father and lawyer said that the real motive for the attack was religious.

Asya Muhammad’s father, Ahmad, told Compass that his brother had previously tried to murder him five times, angered by his conversion to Christianity.

In the wake of Sayeed Muhammad’s death, Asya Muhammad’s grandparents called for her father to be killed. External mediators later convinced the grandparents that Asya Muhammad’s father had nothing to do with his brother’s death, leading the elderly couple to demand their granddaughter’s death and a large sum instead.

Upon hearing these threats, Asya Muhammad’s parents and siblings went into hiding. Her mother and three younger brother’s have now returned home, though her father continues to reside at an undisclosed location.

Lawyer Al-Najar said that the family is no longer afraid of being attacked.

“But if Maria was released from jail, she would be in danger, of course, and she would have to live far from those terrorists [her grandparents],” Al-Najar told Compass.

A Muslim cleric in Mosul, Asya Muhammad’s grandfather attended the February 7 hearing with his wife to testify against his granddaughter. The elderly cleric was present last year when his granddaughter grabbed a store knife and plunged it into her uncle’s chest while he was tearing at her hair.

Asya Muhammad’s lawyer said that if her appeal is rejected, she will finish out her sentence in Dohuk’s juvenile prison. Al-Najar described her situation in jail as “good,” saying that she has the opportunity to study and take computer courses.

But one Christian in Dohuk told Compass that Asya Muhammad’s situation is far from ideal. As the only female minor in the prison, the source said it was uncertain whether jail officials would allow her to attend classes at the all-male school.
Murder victim planned "honour" killing
Compass Direct, March 2, 2007

Sevil O, stabbed 27 times, May 2007

A court in Bursa handed down a life sentence for 60-year-old Arif Ç. who stabbed his 22-year-old daughter Sevil Ö. 27 times when she returned home after running away from her husband and two children.

On Wednesday Arif Ç. was sentenced by the Bursa 2nd Criminal Court to life imprisonment in solitary confinement with no possibility of parole for the crime of premeditated murder. Arif Ç claimed before the ruling that his daughter had committed suicide, saying she had suffered from psychological problems. Declaring that his daughter returned home 13 days after she had fled, Arif Ç. said: “Just when we went to make a missing person report at the gendarmerie my daughter stabbed herself. I am innocent.”

But the court assembly, considering the forensic report and the impossibility that a person could stab himself or herself in the back, did not rule in his favor.
Turkish court gives life sentence in honor killing case
Hamza Erdoğan, Today's Zaman, May 12, 2007

Hulya Tas, killed, July 2007

Hülya Taş (19) was killed in the middle of İstanbul in June 2007 by her brother, Okan Taş, after the family elders decided that it was what she deserved for being together with the person she fell in love with. The court reduced the brother's sentence, taking into consideration his "enragement" with his sister's sexual involvement with her boyfriend. Her brother was sentence to 17 years while six other suspects, the family members who decided on Taş's execution, were released.

Dilek A and Alper Ozdemir, shot to death, January 3, 2008

Dilek A.'s faced the same fate. She fell in love with Alper Özdemir, who was an Alevi. Dilek A.'s Sunni family did not approve despite the countless times the Özdemir family asked for her hand for their son. The family finally agreed and on Jan 3. Özdemir, his mother and aunt visited Dilek A.'s family home to talk about the details of the wedding. Dilek A.'s 17-year-old brother, A.A., who found out that his brother-in-law-to-be was in the house, came home with a gun and started a shooting spree, targeting Dilek A. and Özdemir. Both died of heavy hemorrhaging. A.A. said he was given the gun by his uncle, Soner A., who denies he incited the shooting. However, Özdemir's grieving father said his son had been threatened by both Soner A. and Dilek A.'s brothers numerous times. Dilek A.'s father, Şahin A., commenting on his son's act, said: "I don't know where he got the gun. He used to watch the [television series] Valley of the Wolves too much. That might have been the reason."

Sati Korkmak, strangled to death with a television cable, February 14, 2009

Satı Korkmak was the wife of filling station attendant Hasan Korkmak and mother of 2 sons at the age of 9 and 14 years. They lived in a house belonging to the Korkmak family, the wife staying in a different flat together with her relatives. After some rumours had emerged about Satı Korkamaz, suggesting that she had a relationship with her brother in law, her husband got the family together to discuss the matter. The family did not want to harm Satı Korkmak's reputation and decided that "there was no such relationship". Upon this family verdict, Hasan Korkmak chose to act on his own behalf and strangled his wife with a television cable on 14 February 2009.
. ..

Korkmak's lawyers repeated allegations of adultery resulting from the rumours about Satı Korkmak. Referring to the "Turkish family structure" and "traditional values", the joint attorneys asked, "If we do not apply unjust provocation to a case like this, where else are we going to apply it?" Despite the defence of this familiar "moral", the prosecutor did not mention mitigation of punishment because of "unjust provocation" in his final speech. The judge decreed for applying mitigation for "good conduct" and "regret" only, so he converted the sentence of "aggravated life imprisonment" into "lifelong imprisonment".

Feminists had monitored the case and gathered together with the Karatay family in front of the court house prior to the hearing and protested against women killings and mitigation for "unjust provocation".
"Unjust Provocation" no Excuse for Honour Killing
Yonca Cingoz, BİA News, November 19, 2009

Medime Memi, buried alive, December 2009

Medine Memi, 16, was found in the hole in December. Large amounts of soil were in her lungs and stomach, according to a source who has seen the report. Her father and grandfather have been arrested, but not charged.

So-called "honour killings" take place every year in Turkey despite government moves to stamp out the practice.

Two months after police found Medine's body buried in the garden of her family home, a team of doctors at a university in Malatya has completed the post-mortem examination.

According to a source who has seen their report, there was only minor bruising on her body, and no evidence of her being drugged.

Her hands had been tied behind her back, and they discovered large amounts of soil in her lungs and stomach. The autopsy has concluded that she was almost certainly buried alive.

The police went to her home after a neighbour reported that Medine had not been seen for a month. They found her body in a hole, newly covered with concrete, next to the hen-house.

A local organisation that campaigns against honour killings said the victim, one of 10 children, had gone three times to the police to complain that she was being beaten, but she was sent back to her family each time.
. .

The town is known for being very conservative and religious; it is a stronghold of the once powerful Naksibendi Islamic sect, which was banned by modern Turkey's founding father Ataturk in 1925 but has revived in recent years.
Turkish girl 'buried alive' in family garden
Jonathan Head, BBC News, February 5, 2010

Seyma G, strangled to death, June 2010

A 17-year-old girl found dead one month ago was allegedly murdered by her 15-year-old brother in an honor killing after she left the women's shelter where she was staying, daily Radikal reported Wednesday. The body of Seyma G. was found half buried in the ground in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir, while subsequent tests revealed that she had been strangled to death.

Her brother Y.G. was caught by police and then arrested July 16. According to the Diyarbakir police, the suspects in the murder were determined after an examination of the crime scene revealed footprints in the area and fingerprints on the tape put over the victim's mouth. The victim had reportedly been staying in a women's shelter after being subjected to violence at home.

Family members allegedly found her after they learned she had left the shelter. Her brother, who is accused in the murder, had previously been detained for being a member of the illegal Muslim organization Hizb ut-Tahrir.

Hatice Fırat, stabbed more than 40 times, February 28, 2011

A 19-year-old girl killed in what appears to be an honor killing in Mersin was buried Tuesday as parliamentary deputies urged the government to take measures on women’s murders in the wake of the death.
. . .

The body of Hatice Fırat was found Monday in the Mediterranean province. It is alleged that she ran away with her boyfriend Feb. 3 but was eventually located by her family. The girl’s brother, Mahsun Fırat, is suspected of stabbing Hatice Fırat more than 40 times following an alleged decision by the family to kill the girl for besmirching the family’s honor.
. . .
After the girl allegedly escaped with her boyfriend, she was spotted by a friend of Mahsun Fırat, who called the latter to say he had seen Hatice Fırat in Mersin’s Mezitli district.

According to reports, Mahsun Fırat told him to chase her and added that he would be there soon.

Mahsun Fırat reportedly met his sister at a restaurant in Mezitli where he tried to convince her that he had good intentions, the news agency said.

While Mahsun Fırat allegedly tried to calm his sister down, she told him that she was happy with her boyfriend. During their conversation, Mahsun Fırat told her that he could keep their secret and convinced her to indicate where they were hiding. Hatice Fırat then brought her brother and his friend to the location, the agency reported.

The brother and his friend eventually left the house but Mahsun Fırat informed the family about the girl, according to the report.

The Fırat family then gathered to discuss the situation and allegedly decided to kill the runaway daughter. Mahsun Fırat then reportedly called his sister and offered to take a walk along the coast.

The siblings reportedly met in Mezitli’s Viranşehir neighborhood, where Mahsun Fırat allegedly killed Hatice Fırat before dumping her body in a nearby river.

Servet Tas, shot to death, November 14, 2011

The boyfriend of a woman who was killed by her brothers seven years ago in honor killing has also been shot dead, allegedly by the woman’s father.

Güldünya Tören’s brothers, İrfan and Ferit Tören, killed their sister in an attempt to “cleanse their family honor” in İstanbul in 2004. then 22, had a child with her boyfriend before marriage.
. . .
The man thought to be father of Tören’s child, Servet Taş (38), was also killed on Monday morning by two people in the Sultanbeyli district of İstanbul. The suspects, one of them is believed to be Tören’s father, killed Taş, shooting him six times in the shoulder and head.

The suspects escaped the scene of the crime in a car. Police are now looking for three suspects, including Tören’s father.

H. D., strangled to death, December 2012

A young woman who became pregnant after being raped by two of her cousins in the southeastern province of Batman was found to have been strangled by her family in an apparent “honor” killing on Monday.

The incident came to light on Dec. 17 when police in the province found a dead body. The deceased was determined to have been choked to death, in an autopsy carried out by a local morgue. During the course of a police investigation the body was identified to be that of a young woman known only by the initials H. D. Interrogation by police of H.D.'s family and relatives revealed that she had fallen victim to an honor killing. The murder reportedly occurred as a result of a decision made by the family after she was found to be pregnant after being raped by two of her cousins.

The police report said the family of the young woman brought her to the side of a small lake without explaining why, before strangling her and throwing her body into the water.

Honor killings are amongst the most shocking crimes in Turkey today. In the practice, when a girl's behavior is deemed to have stained her family's honor, she may be killed by a male relative.

Often honor killings are not a heat-of-the-moment crime: the family members may gather together to form a family court, pass the death sentence on the young woman and nominate a young male relative to carry out the deed. He faces ostracism from his family unless he follows through.

Seven people were arrested by police in the Batman incident. The grandfather of the young woman is suspected as the instigator of the crime and her two uncles as the perpetrators.

The police have launched a search for the two men who raped H.D., including a DNA test to determine which of them impregnated the young woman after they are found.
Another victim dies in ‘honor' killing
Todays Zaman, December 26, 2012