A few days ago, a young woman was shot dead in Art Street in Turkey’s southeastern province of Diyarbakır. Melek Aslan, 24 years old, was murdered as she sat on a bench in the street by her brother Mustafa Aslan, who she had met to talk with, on the pretext of “honour”.
We learned Melek’s story from the media later. Melek, who is from a village in neighbouring Adıyaman, came to Diyarbakır to study mathematics at Dicle University. While studying at the university, she met Orhan Vatansever. They became friends and decided to get married.
Later, Melek was subjected to violence and threats by Vatansever and took out a restraining order against him. However, he kept chasing Melek and sent messages to her family saying that Melek was on a bad path. He also threatened Melek’s brother, saying he would spread such rumours and pictures of Melek in the province. Then, the brother came to Diyarbakır to see his sister and killed her.
Melek’s brother Aslan was arrested, and Vatansever was detained, probably thanks to public reaction on social media.
The tragic story of Melek tears my heart out, and that of thousands of others. There was a handbag, a notebook and 2 books left on the bench after she met her brother and was killed. One of the books was Kinyas and Kayra, in which she left a bookmark hoping to continue reading it later. The other book was on diction and the art of eloquence.
Obviously, Melek was a woman who wanted to study, improve herself and live her life the way she yearned. I unintentionally put myself in Melek’s shoes, thinking about how hard she had struggled for a little bit of happiness.
Is it Melek’s brother who is solely responsible for the murder? Misogyny in society, the distorted understanding of honour, the mind that sees women as the property of men, the patriarchal system, the legal system that does not protect women, the education system that does not emphasize the equality of men and women… All have their parts in this story.
On the one hand, women have books in their hands, trying to improve themselves and build a future. On the other hand, they have violent men. There are TV programmes, fatwas and institutions in this country that whitewash male violence.
Every day, women are killed on a bench, on the street, at home, in front of their children, for what is supposedly honour, because they want to break up or divorce, because they want some freedom and happiness.
A woman told me this years ago: we became someone’s wife, daughter, mother, lover, but we just couldn’t be ourselves.
This country does not allow us to be ourselves. This country does not like women. This country does not want our happiness. Knowing this is too heavy for one, knowing that Melek will not be able to continue reading her book, her story interrupted.
As I was finishing this article, some information about Melek on social media caught my attention. A note was found in an apartment where Melek was staying. The note read: “If something happens to me, tell my dad that I love him very much. Because I never said ‘I love you’ to my father ”.
How familiar it is, especially in our region. How many of us have heard our father saying “I love you”. So, the women of this country are born without love and die without being loved. One cannot do without thinking how many more women are about to be killed in this country, how many more women will not make their voices heard, how many more lives will be stolen from women?