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Pinar Gültekin: The victim of a social endemic

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you.”

—Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

At 4pm on 16th July, Pinar Gültekin received a phone call from her elder sister, Sibel Gültekin. They chatted for a few minutes, and Pinar, who was living in an apartment in Akyaka, told her sister that she was going to go shopping at the local mall. An hour later, Pinar’s sister called again, this time, Pinar didn’t answer.

Somewhere during those 60 minutes, between the first and last call to ever contact Pinar’s phone, a life was lost.

While her parents filed a missing persons report that evening, Pinar Gültekin’s brutally beaten and savagely strangled body had been dumped in a bin, set on fire, cemented and then discarded in the forestland of the Aegean province of Mugla.

Pinar, who was 27-years-old, had just graduated from a university in the city of Mugla, Turkey.

Pinar was murdered by her former partner- Cemal Metin Avci. He was the last person she was seen with. Avci was detained the evening after the missing persons report was filed. He was formally arrested and charged on 21st July, 2020, after CCTV evidence emerged, showing him purchasing bottles of gasoline at a gas station close to the region where Pinar was last seen. Avci confessed to the murder during questioning at the police station.

Pinar Gültekin’s body was found five days after the missing persons report was filed. She was killed in Avci’s country cottage in Mugla; her body was torched and then disposed of in the woods nearby.

According to Avci’s statement, Pinar Gültekin was killed in a fit of rage that was caused by her refusal to renew their relationship. Pinar had ended her relationship with Avci when she found out that he was a married man. According to local news sources, Pinar had threatened to tell Cemal’s wife about the affair if he did not pay her a large sum of money. This led to Cemal beating and then choking her in a spurt of anger. However, Turkish authorities do believe the murder could have been premeditated. According to Pinar’s Family lawyer, Cemal’s statements sounded practiced and memorized.

Pinar Gültekin is a victim of Femicide, a strain of hate crime that has gripped the World over the past couple of decades. According to a WHO information sheet, “Femicide is generally understood to involve intentional murder of women because they are women, but broader definitions include any killings of women or girls.”

Pinar’s gory murder was the spark that lit a fire of protest across central Asia. It also resulted in an Instagram “challenge” that called on women to post black and white images of themselves as if saying: I could be next.

While grossly misinterpreted on many occasions, the objective of the trend was to spread awareness on the sinister social evil taking place throughout Asia. The black and white images convey solidarity with victims of Femicide in Turkey, whose black and white images would be displayed on television posthumously.

Pinar Gültekin’s ruthless murder shone light on the rising Femicide rates across Asia and unveiled how the covid-19 pandemic is exacerbating another “pandemic"- violence against women.

Reporter- Ananya Sreekumar

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