Activists in Turkey hail convictions in femicide case

Sule Cet poster
An Ankara court jailed businessman Cagatay Aksu to life for the murder of Ms Cet

Tough sentences for the rape and murder of a young woman are being hailed by activists in Turkey, where hundreds of women are killed annually amid rising concerns about gender-based violence.

The killing of 23-year-old student Sule Cet in Ankara in May 2018 struck a chord in the country, prompting demonstrations and widespread media coverage.

The case became a lightning rod for concern over femicides in Turkey, where conservative attitudes are strong in much of the country.

But as news of the sentencing broke, another case of a killing of a young woman emerged.

Public pressure

An Ankara court on Wednesday jailed businessman Cagatay Aksu to life for the murder of Ms Cet, state news agency Anadolu reported. He received an additional 12 years and six months for sexual assault and deprivation of liberty.

Berk Akand was sentenced to 18 years and nine months for assisting in the crimes, the agency said.

The Cet family’s lawyer pointed to the importance of public pressure in securing convictions. The case saw rallies outside the trial and a wave of social media posts calling for justice.

“Pressure was applied in this case to push an unlawful process to become lawful,” lawyer Umur Yildirim said, highlighting that the defendants were released three times throughout the trial process, and then rearrested.

Rise in cases

At least 430 women were killed in the first 11 months of 2019, according to the We Will Stop Femicides Platform. The rights group has tracked a steady rise in the number of reported femicides since 2011, when it counted 121 cases.

Just this week, the killing of 20-year-old ballet student Ceren Ozdemir, in the Black Sea province of Ordu, has prompted a fresh outcry. Police have arrested one man.

While the government acknowledges the issue of violence against women, critics say existing laws that aim to protect women against male violence are not implemented effectively, and women are not protected properly at any stage in the legal system.

The hashtag #SuleCetIcinAdalet (Justice for Sule Cet) drove hundreds of thousands of posts on social media over the 19 months since Ms Cet’s death. “If we hadn’t raised our voice, this incident was going to be covered up,” one Twitter user said this week.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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