In Turkey, outside big cities, social life concentrates on coffee houses, that is, if you are a man. This week, the customers of a coffee house in a village in the Mediterranean region saw a young woman carrying a bloody sack. Inside was a severed head. She hurled the sack towards them and said: “I saved my honour. Do not talk behind my back any more.”
The woman was 26-year-old Nevin Yildirim, a mother of two. Her husband had been away working at a seasonal job in another town. In his absence Nurettin Gider, aged 35 and a father of two, had raped her repeatedly, taken photos of her naked, and blackmailed her. She had become pregnant. He had been boasting about his visits to her house to his drinking buddies, and there were people in the village who knew what was going on.
She shot him 10 times, stabbed him in the abdomen and cut off his head. She turned herself in, and told the police she would rather die than have the baby. Her seven-year-old daughter was about to start school this autumn. She said she didn’t want anyone to call her children “the whore’s kids”. Instead, they would be seen as “the children of a woman who had cleansed her honour”.
The case has caused an uproar in Turkey. Women’s organisations have rallied to her support, her story has received wide coverage in the media, the social media has buzzed with remarks, and an appeal has been made for her to have an abortion. As I write, the court has announced its decision against the appeal. Yildirim turned out to be 29 weeks pregnant, past the legal limit to terminate a pregnancy, which is 10 weeks. In cases where a woman’s health is endangered, abortion can be allowed at up to 20 weeks.
[Read more: commentisfree]
For women in Turkey who are victims of domestic or sexual violence, there are few doors to knock on. There are few women’s shelters, and too often society tends to judge the victim, not the perpetrator. Every year women are killed or forced to commit suicide in the name of honour. In a context as unfair as this, we need politicians who are sensitive to women’s problems and dedicated to solving them. However, unlike other areas of life in Turkey, local and national politics remains stubbornly patriarchal.
Yildirim’s baby needs to be treated as a free individual and raised with love and care in a healthy environment where he or she won’t be stigmatised. Yet Turkey is far from there. This is a male-dominated country where codes of honour run deep and it is always women who pay the price – women, and at times their innocent children.
- Turkish Woman Shoots, Beheads Rapist (lezgetreal.com)
- Turkey: Muslim woman is raped and retaliates: kills and decapitates her assaulter (themuslimissue.wordpress.com)