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May 25, 2007

Honor Suicides in Turkey

woman walking in turkey

In reponse to honor crimes, these "stop violence against women" posters are increasingly common in Turkey's major cities.

Photo Credit: France Keyser

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By any account, Turkey has a long way to go before meeting the EU's membership criteria. "The EU needs a stable, increasingly democratic, and prosperous Turkey on its side," says EU spokeswoman Nagy. "The country has progressed a lot in recent years, but there is still much to be achieved."

Then there are those Turks who see an anti-Muslim bias in the EU's criticisms of their country and claim they no longer want to join a "Christian club." "The imperialist EU dares to tell us how to improve the rights of our women," wrote Dogu Ergil, a respected Turkish Daily News columnist, in February. "In my mind this is a direct intervention into the internal matters of a country."

It is difficult to say what will win out-hard-line Islamism or progressive thinking. Either way, the lid has been lifted on honor suicides. Last September, eight female high-school juniors and seniors in Batman set the town on its ear by marching from their homes to the local cemetery after yet another honor suicide. They carried placards reading, "No More Violence. No More Suicides." Not surprisingly, the girls soon began receiving threats.

Still, says local sociologist Gulistan Toskin, "It's the first time anything like this has happened in Batman. It was a risky thing for them to do. They ignited a fire, and it's still burning."

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