Monday, June 7, 2010

Suicides in Agri

From Jenny White at Kamil Pasha:
Over the space of four days last week, four women and one man killed themselves in villages around the eastern city of Agri. Yesterday in the eastern city of Şanlıurfa, two more young women tried to kill themselves. This is a region infamous for violence against women, “honor killings”, and “suspicious suicides” in which “family councils” decide a girl should be killed and force the her to kill herself in order to save the family trouble with the law.

On Thursday of last week 20-year-old Saniye Çelik of Yanıkçukur Village hung herself in her home (a later news article says she shot herself with a rifle.) In the neighboring village of Yolcupınar, 18-year-old Özlem Demir and her 21-year-old aunt Şehriban Polat locked themselves in a room together and hung themselves with clothesline. Özlem Demir, it was said, was about to be forced into marriage with a much older man. Şehriban Polat had been married to Demir’s maternal uncle for for only 5 months. Her husband was away doing construction work in Izmir. Together, the women went to a place used as a summer house, placed a big stone against the door, and hung themselves. The police believe the suicides are suspicious. (Demir’s family denies that she was to be married to an older man, but rather a young man who hadn’t even done his military service yet. Polat’s husband says they had been married 7 months and had no problems.)

On Wednesday a professional teacher in Sabuncu Village 22-year-old Şahin Demir, killed herself. The following day the headman of Aşağı Küpkıran Village, 63-year-old Mehmet Karamızrak killed himself. (The Turkish news reported this as another woman’s suicide, but with a name like Mehmet that seems unlikely.)

This week’s suicide attempts are in the same region, near Şanlıurfa. Behiye Aktaş and Leyla Akbaş, both 21, swallowed pills to kill themselves, reportedly “because of family problems”.
White also links to a 2008 post by Turkey observer Gordon Taylor that explores both female and male suicides in the region, and includes a bit more of a Kurdish dimension to the phenomenon.

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