For the first time in its history, the European Court of Rights has ruled against a state for overlooking a domestic violence case, reported The Wall Street Journal. The court said that Turkey failed to sufficiently prosecute a man who abused his wife, and murdered his mother-in-law. Nahide Opuz, the murdered woman’s daughter, has tried to get her case noticed ever since 1995, when her stepfather and husband began to beat her and threaten her mother.
The Turkish police, however, repeatedly overlooked the case, proving they were anything but serious about trying to protect Opuz’s family. Even after her husband, Huseyin Opuz, tried to run over his mother-in-law and was found guilty of stabbing his wife, he was only punished with a fine. And later, when Huseyin stabbed and shot Nahide’s mother to death, his life sentence was reduced to a three-year one; he successfully argued that he had only committed the murder to “honor” his family.
On Thursday, a Strausbourg Judge ruled that the Turkish court was guilty of “judicial passivity” during this case, and had violated articles 2, 3, and 14 of the European Convention of Rights. The judge required the Turkish state to pay $41,700 to Nahide, to make up for the damages.
While this ruling may be a step forward for domestically abused women in Turkey, it hardly seems enough to correct the damages that have been done to Nahide and her family. But most are optimistic about this decision; her lawyer explained to the WSJ that “when it comes to women’s rights [in Turkey], the legal framework is murky. This trial begins to shed light on that murkiness.” We can only hope that this trial will push other countries to take domestic violence seriously, and will encourage women to bring their cases to court. [The Wall Street Journal]