Rise in "Honor Suicides" in Turkey
Thursday, April 9, 2009 10:00 AM

According to an article recently published in The Independent, the practice of "honor killing" has reached record levels in Turkey, accounting for half of all murders in the country. In 2005, the Turkish government attempted to crack down on this practice by amending its penal code, instituting mandatory life sentences for "honor killers."

Since the 2005 legal changes, there is evidence to indicate that instead of committing "honor killings," would-be "honor killers" are now forcing their victims to commit suicide in order to save the killer from a jail sentence. According to Mustafa Peker, the Chief Prosecutor in Batman, Turkey, "I think most of these suicide cases are forced. There are just too many of them, it's too suspicious. But they're almost impossible to investigate." Three quarters of all suicides in Batman are now committed by women, drastically higher than in most other parts of the world.

Vildan Yirmibesoglu, the head of Istanbul's Department of Human Rights, suggests that the "entrenched belief in the notion of honour - at all levels of society - is impeding any progress." Yirmibesoglu also voiced concern that honor killings/suicides aren't properly investigated, and that police, prosecutors, and judges need further education related to gender equality in order for Turkey to overcome this injustice.

Compiled from: Ramita Navai, As Turkey Cracks Down on "Honour Killings," Women Are Now Told to Commit Suicide, The Independent (27 March 2009); Turkey - Honour Killings - Honour Suicides, Women's UN Report Network (30 March 2009).