The New Arab Staff

Hagia Sophia imam mansplains femicides in Women's Day message

The femicide rate doubled between 2011 and 2019, according to a monitoring group [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 March, 2021

The media's interest in femicides is "propaganda" designed to divide men and women, the Turkish imam claimed.
The imam of Turkey's famed Hagia Sophia mosque has condemned reporting on femicides as "media propaganda that tries to turn women against men".

The mansplaining message was issued in a tweet by Mehmet Boynukalin, the Istanbul mosque's head imam, on International Women's Day.

"Murder is murder; the gender doesn't matter," Boynukalin wrote. 

"The constant emphasis on 'femicides' is a slogan of media propaganda that tries to turn women against men," he said.

Also on Monday, at least 1,000 women gathered in central Istanbul to mark International Women's Day.

The march, which normally yields a turnout of thousands, was banned by authorities last year. Monday's march went ahead but demonstrators were barred from entering the central Taksim Square by riot police.

Nine protesters were detained on Monday, according to local media reports.

Turkish women's rights activists have in recent years used the occasion to highlight the issue of violence against women, which many campaigners blame on a lack of government action.

Data collected by the We Will Stop Femicides campaign group shows that murders of women in Turkey have skyrocketed over the past decade. The country does not keep official statistics on femicides.

The group found the femicide rate doubled between 2011 and 2019, with 474 women murdered by men that year.


At least 51 women have been murdered and another 26 have died under suspicious circumstances so far this year, according to We Will Stop Femicides.

Recent cases include the rape and murder of a 92-year-old woman by her neighbour and the murder of a woman by her husband in front of her children. Both took place on Saturday.

Speaking on Monday, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pledged to establish a parliamentary commission to tackle violence against women.

The long-time Turkish leader's promise did not earn much trust from activists, however, who took issue with Erdogan linking the issue to social conservatism.

"We hear that there are those who call on girls to leave their father's homes as soon as possible. Turkey will somehow solve the problem of violence against women, the real threat is this mentality taking root," the president said on Monday.

Previous speeches by Erdogan on International Women's Day have also caused controversy.

The Turkish president stated his belief that "a woman is above all a mother" in a 2016 speech marking the occasion.

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