Spotlight: Murder of ballerina sparks outrage amid rising femicide in Turkey

Source: Xinhua| 2019-12-07 22:47:29|Editor: yan
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by Burak Akinci

ANKARA, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- The brutal murder of a young ballet student in the Black Sea city of Ordu has sparked outcry again in Turkey, where the number of femicide has risen to alarming levels.

Ceren Ozdemir, a 20-year-old stage performance arts student in this northeastern city, was stabbed to death on Tuesday in front of her house by a man.

The murderer, 35 years old, had been jailed for robbery and murder.

In his testimony, the suspect confessed to the "random killing" of the young women that he never met, media outlets said.

The alleged killer, who wounded two policemen before he was captured, was subsequently arrested over charges of "heinous murder" and sent to jail pending trial amid a barrage of anger in the country, with women rights organizations urging authorities to take immediate actions to prevent new deaths.

At least 430 women have been killed in the past 11 months, and 39 were killed in November, according to statistics shared by We Will Stop Femicide Platform, an Istanbul-based advocacy group which keeps a tally of femicides across the country.

The platform's data shows that the number of women murdered have been increasing since 2013.

"Since 2010, 2,952 women have been killed because they wanted to divorce or to leave their partners ... basically because they wanted to take their own decisions regarding their lives," Melek Onder from We Will Stop Femicide told Xinhua.

The activist pointed out the need of effective and urgent protection mechanisms for vulnerable women to prevent violence which has become alarming in the country.

"Deterrent penal sanctions should be imposed in the legal framework in order to prevent the increasing rate of women murder," Onder insisted.

The young ballerina death happened a day before two murderers of another young Turkish women, Sule Cet, received heavy prison sentences by a court in Ankara.

The Sule Cet case is considered an example of the struggle of women's rights groups and social media users against the attempts of men to cover up the murders they committed, as well as the judicial system that is believed to favor men's interests in Turkey's largely patriarchal society.

Ozdemir tweeted, before she was killed, to ask for the final conviction of Sule's killers following months of trials, local media reported.

Women rights groups have denounced the killing, a tragedy which happens nearly on a daily basis, and called on authorities to take drastic and deterrent actions against it.

However, women's efforts to draw attention to their plight have in the past been disrupted by the authorities, such as last month when riot police dispersed thousands of demonstrators in central Istanbul demanding harsher penalties against men who harm women.

Turkey adopted sweeping legislation to combat domestic abuse in 2012 and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly vowed to take actions to tackle violence against women in a Muslim country, where male honor is predominant.

Despite strong laws against domestic abuse, the number of incidents have continued to climb in the last decade, with women groups blaming authorities for failing to enforce the regulations.

Turkish Family, Labour and Social Policies Minister Zehra Zumrut Selcuk expressed her grief after the violent incident in Ordu and pledged to follow her case "until the end."

One of the problems, argued women rights defenders, is that sentences given to men are far from being deterrent, as judges have been decreasing jail terms of the perpetrators over "good conduct" in court.

"There simply cannot be any jail term reductions based on good conduct for women killings," insisted Onder, remarking that the femicide cases are causing nationwide outrage.

"It's time for the government and all state actors to act accordingly to prevent them," she added.