Rampant Violence Against Women in Turkey
Sorrow grows daily ever heavier as the culture of fear expands.
As women begin to step outside the frames of their lives, as modern tools for communication enlighten them about the world beyond, the more curious they become. They begin to ask questions. Their expectations change, and they demand more from their lives. They dare to say no. And now they’re these “dangerous women” who are attempting to break the order embodied in the patriarchal system.
The current form of government is fed by the patriarchal system and to achieve its ends, it empowers men. At the same time, it habituates women into passivity. To avoid being designated troublemakers, they must be content to accept the scraps thrown from men’s tables.
The traditional culture of the analog world order engenders a fear. It’s the fear of failure: that of failing to satisfy the rising expectations of women. When men lose self confidence, when their constructed masculinity is perceived to be at risk, they stoop to violence and kill women and children.
In Turkey, the rise in divorce is evidence of men’s failure to satisfy women’s growing demands to be more active and to be able to voice what they want. According to the Turkish Statistical Institute, in 2004 the number of divorced couples was 91,022. By 2013 this number had risen by 38 percent and reached 125,305. The discordance between the ease with which women can divorce, their demand for independence and the constant prominence given to the concept of the “modest and moral woman” has led to an increase of 400 percent in female homicide in the past ten years. According to official figures, there were 66 murders of women in the year 2004. This yearly cull had exceeded 281 by 2014, with husbands and partners making up more than one half of the murderers.
The conflict between freedom and restraint and the horrific rise in female homicide result from a recent move of Turkey away from a system of parliamentary democracy and towards centralized authoritarian government.
So there are men who feel that their manhood is under threat, who take issue with their wives’ increasing demands and applaud this authoritarian system of government as an example of how to deal with these problems. Authority approves violence against women and the young, and against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people by extending clemency to perpetrators of the violence instead of punishing them with the severity they deserve. These men are afraid to face up to their fear and pain. Recoiling from the pain and embarrassment of what has happened to them, they rebound towards leaders who apportion them so-called high ideals. Thus these men have become as dishonorable as those who govern the country through fear and oppression. Leaving aside, for the moment, their antagonism towards organized resistance and protest, just think: they cannot bear you, the individual woman, expressing your feelings beyond the limitations they have decreed.
They cannot control their desire to destroy those who raise their voices and resist their flawed dominance. They are always on the look-out for the “other”: an individual or a group; a race, a sect or a religion on whom to project their hatred and take revenge. To mitigate their pain, they target women, the young, LGBT people: anyone or anything that reminds them of their own inadequacies and limitations.
Oppression first manifests in discourse… discourse turns to actions, actions to violence.
No matter how much they want to, women can no longer shout out loud. Enough is enough? They cannot do it. Forget about shouting. Any female expression brings accusations, judgements and exclusion. If despite this a woman insists on speaking her mind, the response is violent or, at its extreme, homicidal.
Editor’s Notes: Photographs two and five by Quinn Commendant.