Why is Turkey's AKP ruling party opposing efforts to protect women? Because the Qur'an directs men to beat disobedient women (4:34); how, then, is all this domestic violence any concern of a good, pious Muslim? "Domestic violence rings alarm bells in Turkey," by Şafak Tımur for Agence France-Presse, April 28 (thanks to all who sent this in):
She is neither a celebrity nor a prominent politician, but a bodyguard escorts Nahide Opuz at every step, even at the supermarket, to fend off a menace that has proved lethal: her ex-husband.
The 39-year-old mother of two is the first Turkish woman to have a government-funded bodyguard after the European Court of Human Rights condemned Turkey in 2009 for failing to protect her and her slain mother.
Before the landmark case reached the judges in Strasbourg, Opuz was repeatedly beaten and survived both a stabbing and an attempt to run her over with a car.
After Turkish authorities repeatedly failed to act on her complaints, her ex-husband killed her mother.
Opuz, from the mainly Kurdish southeast, now lives a secluded life.
"For her, it is impossible to talk about and have a normal life. She has been haunted by violence and death threats all throughout her marriage and afterward," lawyer Meral Danış Beştaş told AFP.
Activists say violence against women in the EU-candidate country has reached an alarming level and point the finger at the judicial authorities and the ruling Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party, or AKP.
In February and March, 52 women were killed by men, according to a tally by BIAnet, a news site focusing on human rights abuses.
The figure was at least 217 for last year, and 27 percent of them were killed after asking for a divorce.
From 2002 to 2009, the number of women killed in pre-meditated murders rose 14-fold, according to Justice Ministry statistics that do not provide details on the perpetrators and circumstances.
"The problem in Turkey has reached the level of ‘gendercide,’" said Hülya Gülbahar, a leading women's rights activist.
Women have long been victims of violence, including honor killings, in a country where patriarchal traditions persist.
But critics argue the problem has been compounded in recent years by the AKP's advocacy of conservative values.
Memo to AFP: "conservatives" do not generally commit honor killings or murder women who are seeking divorce.
"The AKP's conservatism and Islam target the woman's body and sexuality," said Pınar İlkkaracan, a rights campaigner.
"What is lacking is the will to eliminate violence against women on the part of the government. They have shown serious resistance" against solving the issue," she said.
Gülbahar also blamed mounting violence on "an intense propaganda that women and men are not equal by creation, and women are therefore responsible for housework and motherhood."
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – who once called women activists "marginals" – came under fire last year when he said, "men and women cannot be equal" but only "complementary to each other."...