Transgender rights activists in Turkey have long called for their country to expand hate crime laws to include transgender people -- and advocates at LGBTI News Turkey say a shocking number of vicious crimes this month show why.
Seven trans women in several different Turkish cities have been stabbed within the past two weeks, with numerous unrelated attacks happening within the space of several nights. On May 2, trans woman Gülşen was stabbed in her Şişli home by two men with a knife and skewer, friends told LGBTI News. Gülşen, who earns income through sex work, like many of Turkey's low-income trans women, had previously encountered the men as clients. She remains in critical condition following surgery, according to Turkish news site Bianet.
On the same night, a second trans woman was shot and wounded, and was brought to the same hopsital around 6am, according to trans advocates who were at the hospital to support Gülşen.
Also that night, LGBTI News reports, a third trans woman, identified as Rüya by Turkey's Dicle News Agency, was stabbed in Izmir by several suspects, who have yet to be identified, while in Kocaeli, a trans female sex worker was attacked by an armed client in the house she had just moved into with two other trans women, resulting in her being hospitalized for leg injuries.
One day earlier, a trans female sex worker named Ipek was stabbed, beaten, and left to die in a Mersin orange grove. According to Ankara progressive news site Kaos GL, 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.
This week, two other trans women were attacked on the same night in two separate districts of Istanbul in crimes that may be related to their occupations as sex workers, reports LGBTI News Turkey. One victim, identified as Migel, was attacked in her Findikzade home by a group of men, sustaining injuries and deep lacerations to several parts of her body. Meanwhile in Işil, five men attacked another trans woman walking on a street, breaking her jaw.
Following the May 2 attacks, a group of over 100 protesters gathered in Ankara to protest Turkey's lack of national outcry over the epidemic of violence facing trans women, according to Dicle News Agency. Activists were also incensed by the April 7 attack on trans woman Bihter, in which several men nearly cut off her left hand in an alleged attempt to steal her wedding ring and money. When Bihter reported her attack to police and Turkey's Ministry of Justice, authorities were reportedly apathetic and have made no progress on her case.
"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," Turkish trans rights activist Dehmat Aksoy told Dicle News Agency at the May 4 rally, adding that the recent rash of violence "prove[s] that transphobic violence is everywhere."
"The heterosexual patriarchal mentality that ignores LGBTI people is being used every day by the state," she continued. "LGBTI and sex workers, who are victims of this mentality, are struggling for their lives every day."
Of all these recent attacks, LGBTI News reports that arrests have been made only in one, the attack on Migel. Multiple suspects have been arrested and charged with assault.