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Several Protests in Turkey After the Murder of 21-Year-Old Student

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After Azra Gülendam Haytaoglu (21) went missing for five days, Turkish police found her lifeless body in a forest in Antalya. The autopsy report shows that she was raped and murdered. The perpetrator has been arrested. Women’s rights groups are calling for demonstrations to address the country’s femicide problem.


Since July 28, the family of 21-year-old university student Azra Gülendam Haytaoglu has not reached her. On August 2, her body was found in a suitcase buried in a forest in Antalya.

According to the autopsy report, it appears that she was raped and murdered. In her last words, the perpetrator, someone she described in a telephone conversation with her sister as ‘a a good friend’, turned out to be a 48-year-old real estate agent.

The real estate agent, Mustafa M.A., allegedly abused her in her own apartment, after which he killed her. That says the Turkish police based on camera images in and around her apartment building. “We saw the perpetrator enter and leave the apartment with a suitcase several times,” the police told BBC Turkey.

Mustafa M.A. was arrested on Monday and did not deny the facts. His interrogation continues.

Women’s associations from different cities such as Istanbul, Izmir, Antalya and Adana have staged protests. The demonstrators want to commemorate Azra Gülendam Haytaoglu and raise the issue of femicide in Turkey.

At least 300 women were murdered in the country last year, according to the Turkish platform We Will Stop Femicide, but the number could be even higher, with dozens more found dead under suspicious circumstances.

Last March, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan decided to withdraw from the Istanbul Treaty. That is the European Convention on Women’s Rights. Turkey was the first of 45 countries to ratify the treaty in 2011, but rising conservative, nationalist and religious sentiment fueled by the president’s AK party turned the tide. According to Turkish conservatives, the treaty would undermine traditional gender roles and family values by promoting a progressive Western ideology.

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