“Our state is the No. 1 enemy of women”

While reliable statistics are hard to come by, given what Turkish experts say is the serious underreporting of domestic violence here, rights groups point to a recent spate of high-profile attacks against women to raise the alarm that Turkey is backsliding on women’s rights. They say women’s progress is being undermined by Turkey’s flagging prospects for European Union membership and a Muslim-inspired government that is increasingly embracing the conservative values of the Arab world it seeks to lead.

So bleak is the situation that this year one outreach group suggested that the state should simply arm women and provide shooting lessons…

The culture wars over women’s role in Turkish society also reflect tensions in a majority Muslim country where the state’s official secularism is clashing with an ascendant class of religious conservatives. With their rise, rights groups say, men appear to be increasingly acting with impunity against women.

Last year there were 207,253 cases of deliberate injuries to women across the country, compared with 189,377 in 2010, according to official data collected by the National Police Headquarters in the capital, Ankara, and provided to Vildan Yirmibesoglu, the general secretary of Kader, a leading rights group.

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