"I don't want to die," a crying, screaming woman soaked in blood shouts as a young girl screams "mother, please don't die." This eight-second video that went viral online was the last known moments, at least to millions, of yet another victim of violence toward women. The video showing Emine Bulut pressing on her stab wounds in a cafe where she was stabbed by her ex-husband Fedai drew outrage and revived a debate on what to do against women's murders at the hands of violent spouses.
Bulut succumbed to her wounds at a hospital in the central Turkish city of Kırıkkale, about four days before the video went viral on Friday, while the young girl in the video, her 10-year-old daughter F.B.B., is under the care of social services. Her ex-husband, seen on the video as two men accompany him outside the restaurant where the stabbing took place, was captured by police.
Under #EmineBulut hashtag on Twitter, thousands of people condemned the killing of the 38-year-old woman and called authorities for the harshest possible punishment against the murder suspect. The suspect told police that he was angered when his ex-wife insulted him while they were talking in the restaurant. More often than not, Turkish courts reduce sentences in such cases if the victim "provoked" the suspect, under a controversial interpretation of Turkish law. "Bring back the death sentence," one Twitter user wrote. Currently, the heftiest sentence under laws is aggravated life imprisonment as Turkey abolished the death penalty in 2004.
The Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Services released a statement on Friday and said the victim's daughter was under the care of psychiatrists from the ministry and the ministry would be co-plaintiff in the trial against the suspect. The ministry also urged Twitter users "not to circulate" the video of Emine Bulut "so as not to hurt her daughter and family." Presidential Spokesman İbrahim Kalın said on Friday that the ball was in the judiciary's court and they expected "the killer to be given the harshest sentence." The Presidency's Director of Communications Fahrettin Altun told Anadolu Agency (AA) that Bulut's murder sparked "a rightfully deserved reaction" from the public. "This is a very, very worrying incident. Any kind of violence against women is unacceptable. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is deeply saddened by the murder and urged officials to take necessary steps for the perpetrator to receive the punishment he deserved and to take steps in fighting violence towards women," Altun said. Altun also called on media outlets to act "responsibly and ethically" while covering the incident and avoid coverage justifying the murder, blaming the victim and from graphic depiction of the violence.
Prosecutors prepared an indictment against the suspect on Friday. The suspect was charged with "plotting and carrying out murder with monstrous intent," a crime that carries an aggravated life imprisonment sentence. The indictment came out just five days after the murder, a record time for such an indictment to be prepared.
Another case that drew tears and outrage was the murder of Tuba Erkol, a 37-year-old woman from the central city of Konya. The mother of three was stabbed 20 times by her husband Bekir Erkol on Thursday. The suspect had a restraining order imposed for domestic violence four days before the murder and was arguing with his wife when he started stabbing her. The couple's three children witnessed the murder and tried to stop the suspect but he managed to flee, before turning himself in to police hours later. "I can't sleep without my mother. Please give some money to doctors, they can keep her alive," the victim's nine-year-old daughter Müşerref told neighbors who sheltered her after the incident.
Domestic violence claimed 932 lives between 2016 and 2018, the latest year with available official data. Turkey is striving to eradicate the disturbing phenomenon by increasing prison terms for perpetrators and awareness campaigns denouncing violence toward women, a product of a twisted patriarchal mindset. Some perpetrators justify murders by saying the victim deserved it for "staining their honor," or cheating and in the case of former husbands, marrying someone else. The government plans a new bill to hand down a sentence of at least 40 years in prison for crimes targeting women.