"We will never forget that the bureau of investigation tried to hush up the case. We women resisted and showed solidarity," said Hulya Gulbahar, spokeswoman of the women's rights organisation "Platform for Equality Mechanisms", after the sentences were announced.

Women's rights groups now hope that the public pressure generated by such cases will bring about a social transformation, one that is supported not only by civil society, but also by politicians.

Many Turkish women are putting their faith in the Istanbul Convention, a Council of Europe agreement from 2014 on preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence. The signatory nations committed themselves to creating the requisite conditions for fighting the problem. Turkey ratified the agreement five years ago and gave it a legal basis as a law for the prevention of violence against women and the protection of the family.

International obligations: The Istanbul Convention

But critics say that in practice, the legal norms of the Istanbul Convention are not being applied and the intended assistance and protective measures for women are not being implemented. Violence and discrimination against women, they say, can be prevented only when the judiciary and prosecution authorities act on the guidelines contained in the agreement.

For laws to protect women to be put into practice, there must be a certain awareness on the part of justice officials and politicians, says Berlin-based women's rights activist Sehnaz Kiymaz Bahceci. But, she says, "the government lacks the will to meet the obligations of the agreement."

Patriarchal family structures

Gokce Yazar from the Sanliurfa bar association sees patriarchal family structures and cultural norms as the problem. "It is normal for a woman who is threatened by her husband and fears for her life to seek protection from the state. The legal provisions are clear, but even so, they are often told: 'go back to your husband'."

Even if members of the government are now reacting with shock to the murder of Ceren Ozdemir, no political will to combat violence against women in any sustained way is discernible. The left-leaning, pro-Kurdish HDP had proposed setting up a parliamentary commission to look into the issue, but the ruling AKP and the ultranationalist MHP rejected the idea in November.

And when some 2,000 women gathered in Istanbul on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November to protest against femicide, among other things, police used tear gas and plastic bullets to break up the rally.

Daniel Bellut & Burcu Karakas

© Deutsche Welle 2019

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