Months after she filed a complaint against her boyfriend, actor Ahmet Kural, famous pop singer Sıla Gençoğlu appeared before a court in Istanbul to testify against him.
Gençoğlu, who uses her first name only as a stage name, recounted the moments Kural "attacked" her in the high-profile case that drew attention to violence towards women in the country.
Kural was not detained but a court imposed a restraining order on him following the incident on Oct. 29 that took place in Kural's residence. The actor, who is known for his roles in popular TV comedies and films, faces a prison term of up to five years for "causing injury, threat and insult."
Gençoğlu was in the same room as Kural for the first time since the incident when she appeared before the judges and more or less repeated what she told prosecutors earlier. "We spent a fine evening with Ahmet's family before we went to his home. We were talking in the kitchen when he brought up the Okan Can Yaltın matter," she said, referring to the man Kural accused the singer of having an affair with. "He went into a fit of rage and started screaming before jumping on me. It was about an hour of a bad memory. He was yelling 'I will kill you' and holding an ashtray. He banged my head on the wall. I fell to the ground and he started kicking me in the stomach. I tried to flee the house but he pulled me back. He wouldn't stop when I fell down and continued to hit me again for some minutes. Finally, I could flee the house," she said. "It would have been worse if he did not take a rest between beatings," she said.
For his part, Ahmet Kural said Gençoğlu admitted she cheated on him to "hurt you" but said he simply asked the singer to leave his home. He claimed Sıla grabbed his wrists and he tried to free his hands. "We argued for 15 minutes and then, she left. She told me she will 'finish you' while she was leaving," Kural told the court, denying attacking the singer. After hearing both sides, the judge adjourned the hearing to April 22, accepting an appeal by Kural's lawyer to give the actor extra time for his defense.
Speaking to Agence France-Presse (AFP) ahead of the trial, Sıla Gençoğlu's lawyer Rezan Epözdemir said it was a powerful moment for Turkish women since victims do not usually come forward. "It is extremely significant that a woman, who experienced violence freely sought her rights and took legal action, and for her case to be at the center of the debate," said Epözdemir.
Canan Güllü, head of the Federation of Women's Associations of Turkey (TKDF), said after the singer's action, there were "many more calls" to their emergency hotline from female victims of abuse empowered by the singer's actions. Güllü said more women had become aware of their rights and the law that protects them from violence.
Turkey was the first country to ratify the 2011 Istanbul Convention, the world's most progressive binding accord to prevent and combat violence against women. However, a different interpretation of laws by courts ends up with lower sentences for perpetrators of crimes against women.
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