On Monday, August 2, women rights groups in Turkey organized demonstrations across the country to protest the brutal murder of 21-year-old Azra Gülendam Haytaoglu, a student of journalism at Akdeniz University. A protest gathering in Antalya was joined by the Guzeloba Women’s Solidarity Committee and Communist Women, among other groups. The Turkish Communist Party (TKP) and the Communist Youth of Turkey (TKG) also protested the murder of the university student and raised concern over the rise in femicides in the country.
Haytaoglu went missing last week and her body was later found in a forest. A real estate agent, Mustafa Murat Ayhan, has been arrested on the charges of rape, torture and murder of Haytaoglu.
While addressing the protest at Antalya on Monday, Eda Mermi from the Antalya Women’s Solidarity Committee said, “today, we received the news that Azra Gülendam, a woman who has not been heard from for 5 days, was tortured to death. Azra’s life, who was studying at Akdeniz University, ended at the hands of a murderer.”
Mermi said that the victim had posted on her social media account months ago: “Your bigotry, which you call love, will one day take a life from our house and they will protect us later, like everyone else, after everything is over, we will be valuable like everyone else.”
Mermi added that “This order, fed by misogyny, could not and cannot protect Azra and many women like her. On the contrary, the system of exploitation, which draws strength from reaction to ensure its continuity, legitimizes all kinds of violence against women and femicide.”
Femicides and attacks on women have been increasing across Turkey, along with the tightening grip of religious conservatism backed by the incumbent Justice and Development Party (AKP)-run government led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan. His government courted widespread criticism when it withdrew from the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, popularly known as the Istanbul Convention, through a presidential decree on March 20 this year.
Canan Gullu, president of the Federation of Turkish Women’s Associations (TKDF), told Medyascope.tv that “politicians who withdraw from the Istanbul Convention and negotiate on femicide in the name of politics should read the murderer’s statement as a punishment a million times over.”
Women’s rights group We Will Stop Femicide stated that “women who want to live on their own feet die because of those who encourage perpetrators by not enforcing the law.”