Güler Karsli wanted a divorce – and was therefore murdered. Her husband Turan Karsli did not want to accept the separation and should therefore be kept away with a ban on contact. A few days ago, however, Turan Karsli showed up at his wife’s apartment and drew a pistol. He shot Güler Karsli, injured their daughter Elif and then turned the gun on himself.
According to a count by the association “We stop the murder of women”, Güler Karsli is the 160th woman who has been murdered in Turkey since the beginning of the year. The association published the case on its website and recorded the most important key data for its statistics: type and date of death, relationship between the victim and the perpetrator, police measures. The platform documents the murder of women, accompanies victims’ families to court and denounces the inaction of the judiciary and authorities. In doing so, she makes the government’s failure in the fight against violence visible – and that is why a banning process against the association, the most important non-governmental women’s organization in Turkey, has now begun.
Hundreds of women with placards and flags gathered in front of the courthouse in Istanbul’s Caglayan district to protest against the trial. “The struggle of women is unstoppable,” chanted the demonstrators. Gülsum Kav, one of the founders of the association, called on the women not to lose heart. “We firmly believe that justice will prevail.”
More than 400 women are murdered by relatives or ex-husbands in Turkey every year. “We stop the murder of women” has been fighting violence for twelve years. Publicity is the most important weapon. Female observers are supposed to prevent judges from turning a blind eye to male defendants by their presence at court hearings.
According to critics, the government not only remains inactive, but actually hinders the fight against violence. Turkey withdrew from the Council of Europe Convention on Combating Violence against Women by decree of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last year. Conservative opponents of the convention had criticized the treaty as anti-family.
The justification for the motion to ban “We stop the murder of women” is now similar. The public prosecutor’s office accuses the organization of violating the moral values of Turkish society and wanting to destroy the institution of the family. In addition, the association has campaigned for Kurdish politicians who the government considers to be terrorists.
The public prosecutor’s office relies mainly on complaints about the women’s association from the public. The court can dissolve the organization and sentence board members to up to three years in prison. The process is scheduled to continue in October.
It is true that Erdogan’s government has also taken up the fight against violence. The President recently met with women victims and reiterated his government will rid the country of the “shame” of violence against women. But at the same time he is directing the judiciary to the most important women’s association in the country: he is suspicious of non-governmental organizations that denounce mistakes and omissions by the authorities.
It is unlikely that a ban can silence the women’s association. Under its general secretary, Fidan Ataselim, “We Stop the Murder of Women” has built a nationwide network of thousands of women who are not intimidated by bans on demonstrations. The fighting spirit of women cannot be defeated by a ban, said Ataselim. “Because we are fighting for our survival.” Susanne Güsten