The March of Turkish Women against Patriarchy and a Criminalised Culture

The march of Turkish women against femicide

The violence against women is rife and more dramatically femicide rates have been increasing exponentially in Turkey. The criminal justice system and the patriarchal culture play a greater role by aggravating the already fragile situation of woman victims. Many men brutally offend women and this offence is perceived as a normalised sociological pathology. The reasons of these offences sometimes go far beyond any logical explanation. For instance, wearing a hat or cooking a dish, which was not appreciated by their husbands and partners, could provide the men "sufficient accounts" to use violence against women. However, what makes the situation more tragic is the approach of the police force and the criminal justice system, which is dominated by the codes of patriarchal culture so the state institutions perceive woman mostly as a "tempter" on the path of criminalisation process. This male-centric approach, prioritising the men's well-being, hurts the victims twice when the male offenders get protected by the state and social control institutions. The male offenders grant significant sentencing reductions in the courts when they wear a suit during the court proceedings. These cases happen almost everyday in the courts and many women have to be in a deep state of shock due to witnessing this cruel cycle of their own victimisation. The man, who committed a heinous crime after raping a young woman, was received sentencing reduction by the court a few days ago before the march of women on 25 November 2015. The offender had worn a suit, as if he were a gentleman, and this suit became his own legal shield.

A number of civil society organisations and mostly feminist communities did not remain silent about this victimisation process last month. They marched in the streets across the country to protest the state institutions and patriarchal culture, which creates major vulnerabilities for women in their everyday lives. Many Turkish women protested the male violence and femicide on 25 November, which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. There are various events and initiatives led by the Turkish women to stop male violence. There is even a website called anitsayac, which literally means the monument counter. The website is an on line monument to commemorate women who lost their lives due to domestic violence and the website is updated daily. The current number is 258. In the video below, the chants of women on 25 November 2015 uttered: "The man shots; the state protects him".

The violence against women has many reasons. However, the most important motivation in Turkey, and perhaps in many other geographies, revolves around the patriarchal culture that shapes not only the behaviours of men but also infiltrates into the state institutions and influences on the judgments of decision makers who sustain it and create a deteriorating and unbearable situation for the women. The resistance of women is the most dignified method not to remain silent in this oppression process even though it is highly risky to resist the patriarchy in a criminalised culture. Yet the persistence of women needs to mobilise the masses from all walks of life. This mobilisation also requires the participation of men to march with women shoulder to shoulder to eliminate the patriarchal culture and stop violence against women.