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In the evening of Thurs­day Jan­u­ary 7 in Antalya, Melek, a 31 year old young woman, moth­er of two chil­dren, stripped naked, hand­cuffed, was sub­ject­ed once again to phys­i­cal and sex­u­al vio­lence by her hus­band Ramazan. Twelve years of mar­riage… The next day, Jan­u­ary 8th, she killed Ramazan with the gun he had used to threat­en her. The same day, Melek is tak­en into police cus­tody and incar­cer­at­ed on Jan­u­ary 9.

This could be seen as a sor­did news item, soon to be for­got­ten so as not to attract atten­tion on the wave of fem­i­ni­cides strik­ing Turkey, and else­where. But the accu­mu­la­tion is such that pub­lic opin­ion is now sen­si­tized in Turkey, through these unceas­ing assas­si­na­tions, acts of vio­lence or psy­cho­log­i­cal, phys­i­cal and sex­u­al attacks, dis­ap­pear­ances… There was a reac­tion as soon as the news began to spread. Very quick­ly, spon­ta­neous sol­i­dar­i­ty gath­ered around Melek’s case.

The plat­form “Kadın Cinayet­leri­ni Dur­du­ra­cağız” (We will stop fem­i­ni­cides) pub­lished its report for 2020: 300 averred fem­i­ni­cides and 171 sus­pi­cious deaths.

On Mon­day Jan­u­ary 11, her lawyer, Ahmet Onaran, trans­mit­ted words from Melek who had been informed of this out­side sup­port. “She thanks every­one for the sup­port she is receiv­ing. She says jus­tice will be done and that she will be back with her daugh­ters.” Ahmet Onaran adds, “when I asked her how she felt in prison, she answered ‘at least, I won’t get beat­en here tonight’. A ter­ri­fy­ing answer.” He also spoke with Melek’s daugh­ters, 8 and 6 years old, who are in the cus­tody of their grand­moth­er. The lawyer shares the chil­dren’s reac­tions with the media. The lit­tle girl said “My father will nev­er come back, right? Yayyyyy, we will nev­er get beat­en again”


Women, fem­i­nists, civ­il soci­ety orga­ni­za­tions, human rights’ defendors call for Melek’s free­dom. As she spec­i­fied in her sate­ment, Melek used her right to legit­i­mate defence in order to pro­tect her life and that of her chil­dren. She was sub­ject­ed to hours of phys­i­cal and sex­u­al vio­lence, to tor­ture. Despite every­thing, she attempt­ed to pro­tect her chil­dren. Her hus­band Ramazan is the one who first made use of the weapon. Although Melek had caused the death of her hus­band even if this was not her inten­tion, she informed the gen­darmes, the ambu­lance and stayed on the premis­es. Her lawyer has filed a request for a lib­er­a­tion under judi­cia­ry con­trol, and remains hopeful…

One must recall that on the oth­er side, in fem­i­ni­cides, when the assas­sin shows up in a busi­ness suit and tie in front of the judge, he reg­u­lar­ly receives clemen­cy, while the women are sen­tenced to per­pe­tu­ity. The same indul­gence applies to abusers when they offer to “repair” the prob­lem through marriage.

Few of these women who killed their hus­band regain their free­dom, except after long sol­i­dar­i­ty cam­paigns, as was the case for exam­ple for Yasemin Çakal who had killed her com­pan­ion, as Melek did, and for whom, after three years of incar­cer­a­tion dur­ing her tri­al was not con­demned after the tri­bunal con­sid­ered that “she had com­mit­ted the act in a state of emo­tion and pan­ic tak­ing her beyond the bounds of rea­son, under a for­giv­able shock.”

Çilem Doğan, sen­tenced to per­pe­tu­ity was sen­tenced in 2016 to 15 years in prison. Her lawyers’ request for a lib­er­a­tion on bail, here again with large sup­port, was accept­ed and she was lib­er­at­ed in June 2020.

Yet, Nevin Yıldırım who end­ed up killing her sex­u­al attack­er in 2015, also sen­tence to per­pe­tu­ity, is still in prison…

Çilem Doğan, Nevin Yıldırım, Yasemin Çakal

Nevin Yıldırım, Çilem Doğan, Yasemin Çakal. Three tri­als sym­bol­iz­ing fem­i­nist self-defence.


We are pub­lish­ing all of Melek’s words which we recon­sti­tut­ed by cross-ref­er­enc­ing her state­ment and her tes­ti­mo­ny before the tri­bunal which were made pub­lic. Of course this is not with an unhealthy voyeuris­tic inten­tion but because we hope to relay the appeal launched for Melek’s lib­er­a­tion by pro­vid­ing as com­plete a con­text as pos­si­ble. A peti­tion was launched on Jan­u­ary 11 and received 10 000 sig­na­tures with­in 6 hours. As we pub­lish this arti­cle there are 20 000 sig­na­tures. The text of the appeal con­tains a sum­ma­ry of Melek’s state­ment in Turk­ish. With this com­plete trans­la­tion, we hope that our read­ers, but also those in oth­er media who wish to relay this appeal will join in this approach.

Follow this link to sign the petition


Melek’s testimony

My chil­dren were also sub­ject­ed to vio­lence. But I could­n’t com­plain because I was afraid. He threat­ened to kill the chil­dren. Sev­er­al times, I want­ed to file a com­plaint but espe­cial­ly after the birth of our first daugh­ter C. I did not dare take this step, under Ramazan’s threats: “If you obtain a pro­tec­tive mea­sure, I will go to the com­mis­sari­at for the inter­ro­ga­tion and when I come back, I will kill you and the child”. I was afraid of Ramazan who is a weapons fanat­ic. In fact, I was wound­ed sev­en months ago under his beat­ings. He threat­ened me: “I will kill you right here and make dog food out of you. No one will find your trace.”

On the day of the inci­dent while we were in the same room, he sent me a mes­sage on What­sapp “I want us to sep­a­rate.” I answered “as you wish”. He sent me anoth­er mes­sage “can you go in the oth­er room”. With­out a word, I took the chil­dren and went into the oth­er room. We con­tin­ued exchang­ing mes­sages. He wrote “I want to talk to you about cus­tody of the chil­dren. One of the two can stay with you, the oth­er with me.” I answered “let’s not sep­a­rate them, keep them both, in any event, I will take them back lat­er.” We exchanged in this way, about our divorce. But we did not say a sin­gle word to one another.

Around 10:30, at the chil­dren’s bed­time, we were get­ting ready. He entered the room with the hunt­ing rifle reg­is­tered in my name, which is nor­mal­ly hang­ing on the liv­ing room wall. He told me “I am going to kill you”.

melek ipekSay your final prayer”, he said and aimed the rifle at me. I begged him not to kill me. When I real­ized he was about to shoot, I moved in front of the chil­dren. My two daugh­ters were hug­ging each oth­er, cry­ing. With my hand, I pushed away the rifle bar­rel. My inten­tion was to man­age to get the chil­dren away. My hus­band fired at that point. The bul­let went out through the win­dow, we were not wound­ed. Again he aimed the rifle at me, again I begged him not to kill me. This time he turned the rifle toward our chil­dren. He threat­ened me: “First I will have you live the pain of your chil­dren, then I will kill you.” Ter­ror­ized, I threw myself on my daugh­ters. He then struck me on the head with the rifle stock. I was wound­ed in the face, the eyes, on the arm and on the shoul­der. He took me into the oth­er room, drag­ging me by the hair and there, he beat me again with his fists and his feet, to the face and to the body. He took the phone out of my pock­et and struck me in the face with it. As I was scream­ing, he told me to shut up and gripped my throat. Under the effect of the stran­gling, I felt as if my eyes were going to pop our of their orbits, every­thing turned black. “Do you think I do less to oth­ers?” he yelled. I man­aged to escape him, and tried to run away. He caught me and beat me again with his fists and his feet. I went on scream­ing, so again he stran­gled me. I lost consciousness.

I came to, tied up in a fetal posi­tion in the bath­room. My hands were hand­cuffed. My neck was tied to my hands, my hands to my feet with the nylon cord my hus­band uses for hunt­ing. He was spray­ing me with cold water. When I came to, I felt from the pain that my com­pan­ion had raped me while I was uncon­scious. I was cold, I was shak­ing and shiv­er­ing. As if noth­ing had hap­pened, he was naked, show­er­ing and wash­ing down the walls. There were traces of my blood on the walls, on the toi­let, he was wash­ing away these traces. Once had had fin­ished clean­ing the bath­room, he left.

I wait­ed like this, on the ground; still in fetal posi­tion in the bath­room. He came back with his 15–20 cm Ram­bo knife and placed the tip under my left breast. He held the knife with his left hand and with his right hand he pressed down. “If I knife you a bit low­er, it will go into your lungs, if I knife you a bit high­er, I’ll make a hole in your heart, but if I knife you here, you will die in worse suf­fer­ing” he said, mov­ing the knife on dif­fer­ent parts of my body and mak­ing me feel the tip. At that moment, I thought he was going to lac­er­ate me with the knife, and cry­ing, I begged him con­stant­ly not to kill me. I could not scream for help because he threat­ened to kill me if I screamed. “I will kill you, I will lay out the chil­dren too, here.”

He warned the chil­dren not to leave their room. I did not see them, I did not hear them. He untied my hands, removed the hand­cuffs and told me “take a show­er, I’ll wait in front of the door.” He left the door open and watched me from the thresh­old. I took a show­er, wrapped myself in the tow­el, and we went to the room togeth­er. At that moment, I though he had giv­en up on killing me, I was relieved. But he hand­cuffed me again, I tried to run but could­n’t. He caught me and hand­cuffed me very tight behind the back.

He opened the sofa bed and told me to lie down naked. As my hands were tied in my back, it hurt. I could not lie down. I asked him to remove the hand­cuffs. He answered “Lie down in silence or I’ll throw you out through the bal­cony. I won’t kill you in the dark­ness of night but in the full light of day, and put you to pieces.” My daugh­ters were in the oth­er room. We heard my eldest daugh­ter vom­it­ing. He howled at them “get to bed and sleep, don’t get your­selves killed”. He lay down on the mat­tress on the floor. Still hand­cuffed in the back, the sofa bed made noise when I tried to turn over. He came close to me, removed the hand­cuffs and put them back on me, this time in front. He lay me down next to the mat­tress, straight on the floor. I was then lying in the emp­ty space under the sofa bed. He wedged me in there, he kept me from mov­ing. He fell asleep. From the fear and the cold, I could­n’t sleep before morn­ing. I man­aged to fall asleep at prayer time.

He woke me up and told me he was going to do the break­fast ser­vice [at his work]. “Wait here for me to come back, when I come back, I’ll fin­ish what I start­ed”, he said. To the chil­dren he said “When I come back I will kill you and your moth­er. Don’t leave the house.” He did­n’t lock the door of the apart­ment. He took the keys to the hand­cuffs, his knife and one of his weapons. With my eldest daugh­ter we tried open­ing the hand­cuffs with hair clips and a tea spoon, but could­n’t man­age it. The rifle he had fired the night before was in the liv­ing room, against the wall. I looked, its mech­a­nism was absent. I searched for a weapon to keep him from killing me, but I did­n’t find one.

With the help of my daugh­ter C. I dressed in a sheet and went to our neigh­bor Turgut Yaraşlı. Our homes are 100 meters apart. The rea­son for this was that my hus­band, in order not to get fined by the nation­al parks some­times leaves his hunt­ing rifle with Turgut. Sem­ra, Turgut Yaraşlı’s wife opened the door. I had hid­den my hands under the sheets so no one would see the hand­cuffs. She asked “what state are you in?” Out of fear, I did­n’t want to say too much, I side­stepped by say­ing “we had an argu­ment again”. I asked if they had my com­pan­ion’s rifle. Sem­ra said they did­n’t have it. So I went home.

melek ipek

At home with my chil­dren, we start­ed wait­ing for my hus­band. My chil­dren kept ask­ing me “will our dad­dy kill us?” And even C., out of fear, peed in her pants. We heard my hus­band’s car, the girls start­ed to cry, ter­ri­fied and say­ing “Mom­my, dad­dy is here, is he going to kills us?” I left the room where the chil­dren were, I went into the first room on the left of the entrance to the apart­ment. My hus­band was com­ing up the stairs, curs­ing and howl­ing he was going to kill us. He came in by kick­ing into the door. He start­ed yelling in the house. I was mak­ing myself small in a cor­ner of the room.

At that moment, I saw the small shot­gun for birds in a cor­ner. Still hand­cuffed I took it and wedged it under my arm. My hand could­n’t reach the trig­ger. What I want­ed was to keep my hus­band at bay. He entered the room bru­tal­ly. We were face to face. When he saw me “you are going to kill me?” he yelled. Then he threw him­self on me attempt­ing to take back the gun. While we strug­gled a shot rang out. I don’t know how it hap­pened. At first, I thought I was dying. Then I saw my hus­band col­lapse near the room and blood was flow­ing. I imme­di­ate­ly took the cell­phone in his pock­et. I tried to make it work but not know­ing his pass­word, I could­n’t. I showed my face to the phone [for a facial recog­ni­tion] but it did­n’t unblock. But the emer­gency num­bers appeared. So I called the 122, emer­gency calls. I said I had shot my hus­band and that they need­ed to call an ambulance.

Under the shock of what had hap­pened, I squat­ted there, next to my hus­band and wait­ed. There was a ring at the door, the gen­darmerie and the ambu­lance arrived. The gen­darmes are the ones who removed the hand­cuffs. I got dressed. Then I was tak­en into cus­tody. I am sad and regret every­thing that hap­pened. But if such a mis­for­tune had not occurred, I and my two daugh­ters would be dead. I killed my com­pan­ion who tor­tured me all night, I cleared my honor.

Update of 26 April 2021

Dur­ing the tri­al on 26 April, the judges recog­nised self-defence, also the fact that the seri­ous­ness of the facts could lead to self-defence with fatal con­se­quences, so there would be no rea­son to con­vict. So Melek Ipek is released!

Despite Turkey’s deci­sion to leave the Istan­bul Con­ven­tion, it turns out that the judges applied it…

Melek Ipek

Pho­to : Alparslan Çınar/DHA


Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges
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Naz Oke
REDACTION | Journaliste 
Chat de gout­tière sans fron­tières. Jour­nal­isme à l’U­ni­ver­sité de Mar­mara. Archi­tec­ture à l’U­ni­ver­sité de Mimar Sinan, Istanbul.