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Right Turn
Posted at 09:30 AM ET, 10/13/2011

Human rights spotlight: Turkey’s war on women

The Wall Street Journal reported, “A Turkish newspaper’s front-page photograph of a woman with a knife sticking out of her naked back after her husband allegedly stabbed her has triggered controversy, in a nation dogged by high levels of domestic violence and so-called honor killings.” Naturally, there were cries of outrage. Oh, not about the dead woman, mind you:

The photograph showed the victim, Sefika Etik, lying on a gurney as she was taken to an ambulance on Thursday. She was alive when the picture was taken, but died on the way to the hospital.
The publication of the graphic image the following day caused anger and protests, including by Ms. Etik’s family. Women’s-rights lawyer Deniz Bayram called it an act of “media violence” that infringed on the victim’s rights and dignity. . . .
Fatih Altayli, editor of the Haber Turk daily newspaper, where the photo appeared, defended his decision, saying he had “wanted people to see what domestic violence really is. I wanted to shock people.”
Mr. Altayli described women’s-rights organizations that protested outside the newspaper’s offices Sunday as “idiots” who knew nothing about “real life” and what it took to make the government act. “I knew people would criticize me, that they would say I was cruel, but someone had to do it,” he said in an interview on Tuesday. “Another six women have been killed since her.”

The Turkish government joined in the catcalls directed to the newspaper. As you might have guessed, such violence against women is not an isolated occurrence.

The Journal’s report noted that a 2008 survey found that “42% of Turkish women said they had been victims of physical or sexual violence,” adding that “in 2009, Turkey became the first state the European Court of Human Rights has held in violation of its obligations to protect women from domestic violence.” Imagine how bad it must be to get Europeans to act against a country other than Israel.

The U.S. government does little but knows quite a bit about what is going on. In its 2010 human rights report, the State Department found:

The law prohibits rape, including spousal rape, with prison terms of two to seven years for sexual assault. However, the government did not effectively enforce the law. . . . Human rights organizations claimed that cases of rape were heavily underreported.
Violence against women, including spousal abuse, was a serious and widespread problem both in rural and urban areas. Women’s NGOs reported that more than 150,000 women were victims of domestic violence between 2001 and 2005, the latest period for which statistics were available. . . .
Due to penalties for honor killings, family members sometimes pressured girls to commit suicide in order to preserve the family’s honor. . . .
On February 4, the father and grandfather of Medine Mimi, a teenage girl, were arrested after allegedly killing her for talking to boys. Her body was found in a hole outside a chicken pen near the family’s home in Adiyaman. Mimi had been buried alive. The case continued at year’s end.
On July 22, a 15-year-old boy allegedly killed his 17-year-old sister, Seyma G., in Diyarbakir after she left a women’s shelter where she had been staying to escape violence at home. Her body was found half-buried in the ground after she had been strangled to death. Police arrested the brother on July 16. The case continued at year’s end.

You’d think with this level of mayhem the administration would be using its “smart” diplomacy to pressure Turkey into treating its women like human beings. But there is little evidence of that. And what about all those NGOs that spend morning, noon and night grousing about Israel? Well, they haven’t spent much time on this either. Too busy urging Canada to arrest former President George W. Bush for war crimes, I guess. Isn’t that a statement on these groups’ screwed-up priorities?

Meanwhile, Turkish women live in fear for their lives. That’s not unusual in the Middle East, of course. Well, except in Israel, where it’s unimaginable. Except in Gaza or the West Bank.

By  |  09:30 AM ET, 10/13/2011

Categories:  2012 campaign

 
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