Turkish Court Rejects Abuse Victim's Claim Because She Didn’t Call Police When Held at Gunpoint

Jale Soydan's ex-husband shot her eight times even though she was under state protection. Now a court has thrown out her compensation claim—because she wasn't able to call for help while being threatened with a gun.

by Sirin Kale
Feb 26 2018, 4:49pm

Photo by Lumina via Stocksy

A Turkish court has rejected a domestic violence victim’s claim for compensation—because she didn’t call the police while she was being held at gunpoint.

Despite being under state protection, lawyer Jale Soydan was shot eight times by her ex-husband in the Turkish city of İzmir. Despite her devastating injuries, the 54-year-old survived and, after a lengthy rehabilitation process, is able to walk again. Her ex-husband, Salih Kapıdere, was sentenced to a 17 year and six-month prison sentence for attempted murder.

As she was meant to be under state protection at the time of the attack, Soydan filed for damages against Turkey’s Interior Ministry and Family and Social Policies Ministry for $53,000. But Hurriyet Daily News reports that the Izmir Fifth Administrative Court has rejected Soydan’s claim. The court argued that that Soydan failed the obligations of her protection order by not calling the police when her husband threatened her—despite the fact he had a gun.

“My former husband threatened me several times, he tried to set me alight. How could I call the police and ask for help when my husband was threatening me with a gun in his hand?” Soydan said after the ruling. “What could I have done in fear and panic? I tried to dissuade him but he shot me. How am I at fault here? I cannot understand it. I will continue to seek my rights until the end.”

Although Turkey’s domestic violence laws are relatively strong, the country still suffers from high rates of abuse. One 2015 UN country survey found that 15.5 percent of married women have suffered severe violence at the hands of their partner, which the report defined as being punched, choked, burned, or threatened with a knife or gun, or being attacked with a knife or gun. 33 percent of women reported that their husbands or intimate partners have slapped them or thrown something at them at least once in their lives.

"Despite being the first country to sign the Convention to Combat Violence against Women five years ago, Turkey’s implementation of the convention remains flawed," explains Milena Buyum of Amnesty International. "In 2018, reports of violence against women continue to rise, ranging from verbal and psychological violence, to beatings, sexual violence, and killings."

Soydan's case—whilst extreme in the level of violence used—is not uncommon. “Disturbingly, in Turkey today violence against women is still widely tolerated and support and protection for survivors is woefully insufficient," Buyum goes on. "A culture of impunity in the country continues to let too many perpetrators off the hook."