"In Turkey, women and children live on the edge of a knife"

Van Women’s Association Chair Özünver said that AKP’s policies increased the rates of femicide and child abuse throughout Turkey.

In Turkey and Northern Kurdistan in 2016, 236 women were murdered, 71 were sexually assaulted and 373 girls were abused. 59% of the child abuse cases occurred in schools. Perpetrators were found in only 126 of these cases and 18 people were put on trial. The majority of abuse happens in schools, but only 3 teachers were suspended. One of those teachers was transferred to a different school from his Religious school.

Van Women’s Association (VAKAD) Chair Songül Özünver spoke to ANF on the violence and abuse against women and children in 2016.

Özünver said: “Women’s deaths in Turkey are covered up as suicides and the criminals are acquitted.”


Özünver stated that with 2016, Turkey’s cases of femicide and child abuse had peaked. Özünver also mentioned the studies they carried out in central and rural Van, adding: “Unfortunately, the murderers of women and the abusers of children are not put on trial. Many women are murdered by their husbands but the death is covered up as suicide. We have witnessed this many times in our studies and inquiries in central and rural Van.”


Özünver pointed out that 40 women’s suicides were recorded in Van in one year and said: “According to our findings, at least half of these women were murdered and their deaths were made to look like a suicide. For example, I don’t believe there is any reason for an 11 year old girl to commit suicide. It is obvious that this girl was murdered by a person or persons. You don’t have to go too far, we get dozens of appeals of abuse from Van. As in Turkey in general, living has gotten much harder for women and children in Van. Honestly, living in Turkey is living on the edge of a knife.”


Özünver stated that especially after the State of Emergency was declared, violence against women and the pressure has increased. Songül Özünver said: “Women’s associations have become a target for the government. In the State of Emergency period, women’s associations have been shut down and the women were left unprotected, open to violence and pressure. To stop the increasing femicide and abuses, women’s associations and institutions must be reopened. VAKAD doesn’t deserve to be shut down, it needs to be opened again. This is my call for all women: Even though our association has been shut down, they should try to reach us anyways.”