Note: This essay, written by Şöhret Baltaş, was published in Jiyan.org in Turkish on March 18th, 2014 with the title “Bir kız çocuğu… Şu dakika ölebilir.” As part of our efforts to inform the English speaking audience about male violence in Turkey, we attempted a free translation of this literary text.
She was 12 years old back then. Now she is 16. Still a kid. I’m saying this to those who still have a little bit of conscience left: she is still a kid. Each time we say Ç., please read it as “kid”. [“Kid” in Turkish language reads “çocuk”.]
In a village of 30 households, worthy of the Turkish phrase “a place even God has forgotten”, time goes very slow. But in the last week, suddenly it accelerates, starts shaking and falls apart. The villagers realize that 16 years old high school student Ç is pregnant since 8 months.
Recall that there are only 30 houses in the village. Look around you, how many people can be the perpetrator of this? They ask Ç, and she tells of the disaster that she hid to death in this tiny little part of the world:
Exactly 4 years ago, when Ç was 12 years old and shepherding, she gets raped in the middle of nowhere. The perpetrator is the youngster named K.T.
As all “penetrator” men do, he threatens the kid. Ç keeps her disaster in her heart, never says a single word. Every week, he finds Ç in solitude, and continues to rape her for three years, by all measures tens of times.
In August 2013, for one reason or another he lets Ç in peace. But this time, his brother, B.T., picks on Ç because “if my brother had some, I shall have a share too.” Then all the carrion crows of the village, E.B., N.G., K.G., T.M. …., gather around the girl to tear her from limb to limb.
The kid tries to resist with her small body and enormous fear but one of the carrion crows, T.M., forces her: “I have your video. I’ll put it in the Internet if you don’t sleep with me.” And the others follow lead. Spreading fear is their specialty… Ç gets scared of the threats, and, having nowhere to go, she cannot resist these thugs.
After Ç’s testimony, 7 suspected people get detained last week. So, what do you expect the first raper K.P, 19 years old, to say in court? “Yes, I am a piece of dog shit, I threatened the 12 years old girl.” is exactly not what he says. Especially seeing that the state embeds “woman” as an abstract object to “family” for her to fade away as an individual, and that its courts, following the same mentality, are extra “tolerant” in cases like this, why would he need to make such a confession?
He claims that Ç, a kid of 12, was “voluntary”, that she “consented”. Oh, he even gave money and cigarettes to this kid! He means to say “It’s a fair trade, both the buyer and the seller are willing, there is nothing to do here for a court.”
Furthermore, as a support to his claim, he puts as evidence that Ç had sex with N.G. from the neighboring village too. But N.G., 22 years old, defends that he “caressed her legs but didn’t have sex”. The rest of the 5 suspects reject the claims against them.
K.T. gets arrested by the Criminal Court of Erzincan, due to “qualified sexual abuse”. The other 6 suspects are released with juridical control because of “simple sexual abuse” by the Criminal Court of Karlıova. (Because, you see, it is a simple matter to caress the legs of the 12 years old kid.)
The verdict reads: “… while there are reasons for arrest, the discretion of the court was that it would suffice to apply the regulations of juridical control.”
The released 6 people (probably grinning like Cheshire cats) return to their villages.
Ç, who, according to her statement, carries K.T’s baby, gets allocated by the state to a house in a neighboring city.
But of course, nothing calms down… This village of 30 households is now attempting to put all the burden to this kid, who carries the disaster of that earthquake that turned everything upside down. The family rejects the girl. So the future of the baby to be born in a month is unknown.
Remember those who said “Let them bear the baby, the state would take care”? They now have better things to do, hiding their theft and corruption cases, and organizing rallies for the upcoming elections…
They wipe the blood of all the women who died with a piece of paper cloth and move on as if nothing happened.
But, enough of them.
At this moment, Ç’s lawyers Özlem Kaya and Selin Nakipoğlu have an emergency call: A young girl whose life fell apart is now being pushed to suicide by her family members! “Throw yourself from a high spot so that we all get rid of this!”, that’s what they are telling to this kid.
Now, I want to add my voice to the whispers and mournings of all those wounded women and those who want to keep them alive. Let us all shout and cry and even scream for this girl. What will we do in this land of dead, if the little body of Ç crashed to the floor today or tomorrow?
Please, speak out, write about it, talk about it, give her a hand… Please, do not let us let this kid die…