In Turkey, A Spate of Violent Attacks Against Trans Women

Europe Regional Correspondent

Turkish advocates have been calling for recognition of a spate of violence against trans women in the country. Over the space of two weeks, seven trans women were violently attacked in different cities around Turkey. On the 2nd of May four trans women were reported to have been attacked, including a trans sex worker named Gülşen who was stabbed in her home in Şişli by two men with a knife and skewer. Reports say that the men were known to her as previous clients. According to Turkish news site Bianet, she remains in a critical condition. That same night, another trans sex worker was attacked by a client in her home.

The previous day, reports The Advocate, a trans sex worker named Ipek “was stabbed, beaten, and left to die in a Mersin orange grove.” According to Ankara progressive news site Kaos GL, writes The Advocate, “she had agreed to terms with two male clients who then forced her into their car, drove her to the isolated grove, brutally attacked her, then drove away. She was found by two farmhands who worked in the grove and rushed to Mersin Government Hospital, where she was listed in "critical condition" after being treated for several deep wounds and fractured bones in her face.”

Last week, two other trans sex workers were attacked on the same night in Istanbul. LGBTI News Turkey reports that one victim, identified as Migel, was attacked in her Findikzade apartment by a group of men, sustaining injuries and deep cuts to several parts of her body. On the same night, Işil, a trans woman who was working on Bağdat Boulevard, was attacked by five men who broke her jaw. Of all these recent attacks, LGBTI News reports that arrests have been made only in the case of the attack on Migel.

Dicle News Agency reports that, two days after the 2 May attacks, more than 100 people gathered in Ankara to protest Turkey's lack of national outcry over the epidemic of violence facing trans women.

"We know that hate attacks [against LGBTI people] have a political base. The state that wants to introduce transgender-only prisons should instead take necessary precautions against hate attacks," said spokesperson for the protestors, Dehmat Aksoy, who added that the recent spate of violent attacks "prove[s] that transphobic violence is everywhere."

"The heterosexual patriarchal mentality that ignores LGBTI people is being used every day by the state," she said. "LGBTI and sex workers, who are victims of this mentality, are struggling for their lives every day."

In its report, the Advocate points out that “Transgender rights activists in Turkey have long called for their country to expand hate crime laws to include transgender people.”

Reported murders of trans sex workers in Turkey are high. Two years ago, following the murder of Dora, NSWP released a statement, which included the following comment on the situation in the country:

“Stigma and discrimination against trans women in Turkey plays out in numerous ways, including the exclusion of trans people from education and employment. Many trans women begin sex work as a direct cause of this stigma and discrimination and the resulting exclusion from other employment options. For others this stigma is fuelled through involvement in sex work. Harassment by state actors is commonplace, with trans sex workers often complaining of abuse at the hands of police and other authorities. Turkey’s record on human rights remains particularly poor, however what is clear is that certain minority groups are targeted for acts of violence by those knowing that this can be carried out with little repercussion – often with impunity.”