ECtHR: Domestic violence victim was not protected

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 29.06.2016 01:58

The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ruled Turkey pay compensation to the mother of a woman who was killed by her abusive husband, and ruled that the country's authorities failed to protect the victim despite her multiple pleas. Fatma Babatlı, a mother of seven from the southeastern province of Diyarbakır, was killed by her husband Süleyman Babatlı, who later shot himself. She had filed for divorce from her husband 18 years before Babatlı shot her dead in broad daylight in 2008. The victim filed for police protection against the violent husband four times before her murder, but none was provided. Her mother, Halime Kılıç, took the case to the ECtHR after her lawsuits in Turkey, seeking compensation and prosecution after police and judiciary officials failed to imprison the murderer despite complaints, were dismissed.

The Strasbourg-based court said there had been a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECtHR) in the case regarding the right to life and prohibition of discrimination. Judges said in their ruling that Babatlı was killed by her husband despite having lodged four complaints and obtaining three protection orders and injunctions. "By failing to punish the failure by Babatlı's husband to comply with the orders issued against him, the national authorities had deprived the orders of any effectiveness, thus creating a context of impunity enabling him to repeatedly assault his wife without being called to account," the court said in its statement.

The court ordered Turkey to pay Halime Kılıç 65,000 euros for non-pecuniary damages. Domestic violence and the murder of women by their husbands, partners and relatives have long been thorny issues in Turkey, where broader media coverage has made the disturbing phenomenon more visible. Factors ranging from a warped mindset motivating men to kill women who cheat on them in so-called honor killings, in addition to light sentences for men who murder women, are blamed for its prevalence. Hundreds of women were killed by their spouses and relatives between 2015 and 2016 according to nonprofit organizations, although concrete official figures are not available.

Though police protection and shelters are available for women threatened by their spouses, authorities say it is difficult to prevent murders or acts of violence just through legal measures. The government is preparing an action plan to fight violence against women. The action plan is expected to improve legal and preventative measures by the judiciary and law enforcement, and further raise awareness about the issue. Turkey is one of the signatory countries of the Istanbul Convention, the first comprehensive and legally binding international document on domestic violence. The convention that came into force in 2014 requires implementation of several steps to combat violence. Amid the obligations the convention demands countries penalize psychological violence towards women and female genital mutilation, and acting as an accomplice for the perpetrators of violence. The convention also orders countries to begin campaigns to raise awareness for gender equality, such as educating students on the issue. Signatory countries are also required to implement effective laws against domestic violence and protect victims as well as offering them therapy.

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