The Women Against Rape Initiative, protesting the acquittal of two of the alleged perpetrators of the 2007 Fethiye gang rape, have called on Family and Social Policy Minister Fatma Şahin to ensure justice is served in the case.
A woman was reportedly raped by eight men, two of whom were below 18 years of age, in 2007 in the province of Fethiye. No case was opened for three-and-a-half years even though there were witnesses to the crime and the woman was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
All eight of the defendants were acquitted in the seventh and final hearing on April 27 because of a “lack of evidence.”
Hundreds of women stood outside the Fethiye Courthouse during every trial in the case to demand that justice be served.
The Women Against Rape Initiative protested the court's decision on Sunday at the Taksim tram stop, pointing out that there were medical documents that prove rape, psychological evaluation reports, phone tracing evidence that proved the suspects were at the crime scene, witness testimony and the defendants' own inconsistent statements.
Rojin Akın, on behalf of the activist group, said the court's acquittal of the two alleged perpetrators essentially declares rape legal.
“The deterrent effect of this court's decision on women's reporting and seeking help is obvious. … At the same time, the court's decision encourages rapists,” she said.
“We are making a declaration. We urge Fatma Şahin and all those responsible to ensure justice is served. We will not keep silent in the face of rape,” Akın said.
Ayfer Erel, vice president of women's rights group Şefkat-Der, on Sunday criticized Turkish courts' practice of giving reduced sentences in light of male perpetrators' excuses for violence. The courts should never give reduced sentences to gender-based violence perpetrators because of “good conduct in court” or “provocation,” such as alleged infidelity, insults or meeting with friends.
Pointing to the courts' implied argument that such incidents make violence legitimate, Erel said, “These sentence reductions made by courts are a kind of incentive for the murders of women.”
In another court case, the trial of five Turkish nationals who allegedly kidnapped and killed their sister began on Monday in the city of Detmold in Germany. The prosecution alleges the five family members kidnapped and killed Arzu Özmen because they disapproved of her living with her German boyfriend. The defendants, who thus far have not given any statements, reportedly wish to speak during the trial.
A group of human rights advocates stood outside the courthouse to protest honor-based killings. Özmen was kidnapped from her boyfriend's home on Nov. 1, 2011. Her body was found on Jan. 15, 2012, in the city of Lübeck.
Meanwhile in Turkey, violence against women continued.
In Adana, 21-year-old C.K. allegedly strangled his 17-year-old girlfriend, T.G., to death on Monday at a park outside her school. He was soon after arrested by the police.
In Elazığ, a man killed his fiancée for wanting to break up with him. Akif Y., who was found with the gun used in the crime, told police he shot Bediha Oral to death at her home.