Woman Who Killed Husband After Years of Abuse Wins Freedom in Landmark Self-Defense Ruling

A court in Turkey has ruled that a woman who killed her husband had been acting in self-defense, in a verdict that has been welcomed by a women's rights group.

A court in Antalya heard harrowing testimony via video link from Melek Ipek, 31, about how she had been regularly beaten by her husband Ramazan Ipek, 36, throughout their 12-year marriage.

In her account in the indictment, she described how on January 6 this year, she had been handcuffed by her husband who hit her with a rifle butt and threatened to kill her and their daughters, aged nine and seven, The New York Times reported.

He fired the gun which smashed the window beside them. He left the house, saying he would come back later to kill them. Still handcuffed when he returned an hour later, she picked up his rifle, which went off after a struggle and he was killed by a single round.

When she called police, she had prominent injuries on her face and body but she was still detained and subsequently charged for murder, sparking outrage among right's groups which have sounded the alarm about domestic abuse in the country.

Melek Ipek in Antalya, Turkey
Melek Ipek, hugs her two daughters just after being released from prison on April, 26, 2021, in Antalya, Turkey. She was accused of murdering her husband but a court ruled that she was acting in self-defence. ALPARSAN CINAR/Getty Images

On Tuesday, the court ruled that despite the case against her for the "deliberate killing of her spouse under unjust provocation," she had been acting "in defense against an attack on her life, bodily integrity and sexual freedom," news outlet Bianet reported.

Following her release, she said: "It's extraordinary, but I never wanted it to be like this."

In a statement afterwards, her lawyer Ahmet Onaran said that the ruling by the presiding judge and court's board was a "relief" and that it put forward "the rule of law once again."

"I hope that we will not hear any more news about violence against women or be faced with such news because of the news about violence against women," Bianet reported.

Turkish courts seldom rule in favour of women who act in self-defence against their abusive partners, Al Araby reported. Rights groups reacted with anger last month when Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan pulled the country out of the world's first binding treaty to stop violence against women.

The 2011 Istanbul Convention has 45 signatories and required governments to legislate against domestic violence and similar abuse, marital rape and female genital mutilation.

The Turkish rights group, We Will Stop Femicide Platform, has said that over 300 women were murdered by their families or partners in Turkey in 2020.

Following Ipek's acquittal, the group described the case as a "precedent" tweeting that "women's struggle for justice will continue until all women live equally and freely."

Newsweek has contacted We Will Stop Femicide Platform for comment.