The high-profile case of Sıla Gençoğlu, a renowned pop singer who was allegedly beaten by her actor boyfriend Ahmet Kural put violence against women in the spotlight once again. The Women Emergency Assistance Notification System (KADES) app developed by the Turkish police is the latest measure to protect women against violence. Since its launch on March 24, the app has prevented 145 women from suffering death or injury at the hands of men prone to violence.
KADES, which can be installed on IOS or Android smartphones, enables women to alert the police with just one click. Users first log on to the app by providing a number of details, including their phone numbers. Once logged on, the victim can notify the police by clicking on the "seek help" button, which automatically sends her location to the police.
A total of 33,000 people downloaded the app from March 24 to Nov. 1, as 6,770 tip-offs were filed with police via the app. Of them, 145 were genuine cases of violence and were eventually prevented by police officers sent to the users' locations.
A 36-year-old woman from Bozüyük, a town in western Bilecik province, was one of the users rescued by police. An unidentified woman beaten by her ex-boyfriend used the app and police responded within five minutes, detaining the suspect.
In another case, a woman with an ongoing divorce case in the eastern city of Ağrı, who already had a restraining order on her violent husband, used the app on June 28 when the husband showed up at her door and tried to break in. The man was detained before he was able to enter.
In the central city of Niğde, a 21-year-old woman helped the police capture the perpetrator quickly when she used KADES after she was sexually assaulted in an elevator on Oct. 28.
Domestic violence and the murder of women by husbands, partners and relatives have long been a thorn in Turkey's side where broader media coverage over recent years has made this scar on society even more visible.
Although no official figures are available, dozens of women are killed every year by husbands, former husbands, boyfriends or male relatives, according to reports by nonprofit groups monitoring violence against women.
A larger number are believed to be subject of sexual assault. In both physical and sexual violence cases, victims tend to not to report the attacks, either fearing for their life or fearing that their next of kin, children, etc. will also face attack.
In some cases, experts say women do not file complaints against their husbands after instances of domestic violence, as they are economically dependent on their spouses. Turkey's Family and Social Affairs Ministry has been tackling the problem by providing education courses, raising public awareness and empowering women.
The violence, which is mostly fed by a patriarchal mindset that treats women as second-class citizens, occasionally draw public outrage but still prevails.
Sıla Gençoğlu's case can further raise awareness on the issue as she is probably the best-known figure to report a case of violence. A few days after Ahmet Kural, an actor known for his comedy films and TV series, allegedly brutally assaulted her in his Istanbul home, the singer filed a criminal complaint against him for the incident that drew widespread condemnation. The complaint led to a three-month restraining order on Kural, who is expected to testify to prosecutors today.