"She was very happy, they said, they can't imagine what got into her."
<http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,13509-2195838,00.html> http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,13509-2195838,00.html The Times May 25, 2006 Honour suicides: death by a bullet in the back >From Suna Erdem in Istanbul ZULFINAN BAYCINAR died from a bullet in her back. Her husband's family went into mourning for the 27-year-old's "tragic suicide". She was very happy, they said, they can't imagine what got into her. But now Baycinar's husband is on trial for murder. Prosecutors say she was killed because she dared to oppose against her husband's wish to take a second wife, refusing to bow to tradition and know her place. Such mysterious "suicides" have always been treated with suspicion in southeast Turkey, but they have increased so dramatically in recent months that the UN has launched an inquiry. Yakin Erturk, its special rapporteur on violence against women, is visiting the region to investigate Mrs Baycinar's case and other allegations that women deemed to have sullied a family's "honour" are being ordered to kill themselves. The increase in suicides follows a change in Turkish law a year ago to sentence to life imprisonment family members who carry out so-called "honour killings". This year 36 women are said to have attempted suicide in the region, more than all of last year. "The general suicide rate in Turkey is low compared to the rest of the world, but the nature of these deaths is very different. Whereas worldwide there are about three to four times as many male suicides as female, in Batman, in Turkey, for instance, it is quite the reverse," Ms Erturk told The Times. Until the laws changed, men who killed their female kin for reasons of honour or tradition were treated leniently. Often, a young brother, a minor, would own up to the murder and be let off with little more than a slap on the wrist. The killings, and what was effectively legal collusion, figured large in EU reports on the progress of its latest candidate country. One brazen case was that of Guldunya Toren, who was killed in an Istanbul hospital two years ago by her brothers for having a baby after being raped. She had refused to marry her rapist, run away, gone to police several times and been shot once already in the streets of Istanbul, before her brothers tracked her to hospital. Now that the stakes are higher, women's groups believe that the errant women are being told: "Here's a gun or here's some poison, go and kill yourself so I don't have to go to prison for it." If they don't comply, they are killed anyway and declared to have committed suicide after a bout of depression. "This law is a real improvement, but we did worry that tougher punishments would lead to this and were watching out for increased cases of suicide," said Zelal Ozgokce, founder member of Va-Kad, a new women's association in Van, near the Iranian border. She says that where once there would be the occasional whiff of suspicion surrounding a suicide, now she hears of odd cases almost every other day. "There have been around 20 suicides that we know of just in the Van region this year. Last year there were 45 the whole year and around 80 in the years between 2000 and 2003. There are many cases of overdoses and several like Zulfinan's, where women are said to have shot themselves in physically impossible ways." [Non-text portions of this message have been removed] ------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor --------------------~--> You can search right from your browser? It's easy and it's free. 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