Meet the woman who has become a figure in the fight against Turkey's domestic abuse problem.
Çilem Doğan being escorted to jail. (via Cosmo)
Çilem Doğan was trapped in a terrible marriage. Just 28 days after her wedding, her husband started violently abusing her. His name was Hasan Karabulut, and he wanted his wife to become a prostitute. He would beat her whenever she refused his wishes. One time, he even imprisoned her so that she would concede to his demands. Luckily, her mom found out and threatened to call the authorities on him.
Doğan was planning to leave Karabulut after the ordeal, but found out she was pregnant. She tried to make the marriage work for the sake of her child. This didn't stop Hasan, however; he continued to act violently towards his wife during her pregnancy, and when she was seven months pregnant, he ordered her once again to become a prostitute. He even beat her while she was in the hospital delivering their child. Doğan tried getting a divorce afterwards, but Karabulut threatened her family.
One morning, Karabulut told Doğan to pack her bags. He was going to take her to the Turkish city of Antalya, where he planned for her to start working as a prostitute. Doğan refused again. He started beating her once more, but this time, she had had enough. According to the 28-year-old Turkish woman:
“When I opposed, he beat me. He pushed me on the bed and the pistol under the pillow came into my mind. I grabbed it and shot him repeatedly. Then I took my daughter and left the home."
Karabulut was found dead with six bullet wounds. Doğan was quickly caught and arrested. Although her story is gripping enough on its own, what really put her in the spotlight was her blasé attitude towards the whole ordeal. She is completely confident that what she did was right, and why shouldn't she be? She was acting out of self-defense.
While being escorted to jail by Turkish police, Doğan gave the cameras a thumbs up.
Dear past, thanks for all the lessons #CilemDoğan pic.twitter.com/ECxsDtvGuW
— Mehmet Selcuk Bilge (@mselcukbilge) July 9, 2015
She said she had "no regrets," and made the following statement to a Turkish newspaper:
“Will women always die? Let some men die too. I killed him for my honor."
Doğan's story has a deep resonance in Turkey, which is considered one of the world's worst countries to be a woman. This is the result of a high domestic violence rate (over 40% of Turkish women have been abused) and scarce resources for women. It was not always thus, however. Experts say things have gotten worse since the rise to power of pro-Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), which oversaw such top-level changes as changing the name of the Ministry of State for Women's Affairs to the Ministry of Families and Social Policies, sending a strong message about the role of women. Doğan's story also has a deep resonance with domestic violence survivors all over the world, who have expressed support for her over social media.
You go girl! Self defense is not murder. #CilemDoğan
— Maria Bugge (@maria_bugge) July 13, 2015
It's 2015! Help put an END to domestic abuse, #Turkey! Free #CilemDoğan - no questions asked! He would've killed her eventually & the kid.
— amanda (@amandatufnail) July 13, 2015
My thoughts are with #CilemDoğan today. Some things women should never have to endure.
— Emily Ford (@__whitegold) July 12, 2015
At the time of the arrest, Doğan was wearing a shirt that said "“Dear past, thanks for all the lessons. Dear future, I am ready."
* kadınlar ölmesin, biraz da erkekler ölsün! öz savunma haktır! #CilemDogan #NevinYıldırım pic.twitter.com/H7ESpsLixI
— Selin Görkem (@sLngrkm) July 10, 2015