Last week, an Economist article held the tagline “Some 54% of Turkish women think it is acceptable for a man to use violence if he suspects his wife is cheating on him.” Is this victim blaming? 

Highlighting the women who deem their abuse ‘acceptable’, as opposed to the men who carry out the abuse ignores the role played by internalised misogyny in the crimes committed against these women, daily. The article stated that last year, 409 women were murdered by a partner or family member, a figure almost double than that of four years previously. Women are being murdered in the hundreds, and the biggest headline is that they think it’s acceptable if they’ve done wrong by their husband? It is common knowledge that people who are abused are indoctrinated to believe that it is partially their fault, that they play a role in it, that their abuser isn’t wholly to blame. Why is this such a surprise to the Economist? 

Within the piece other statistics are brought to the forefront: 11% of women who suffer violence – physical or sexual – seek help from the Turkish authorities; only 23% of women who apply for protection from shelters, restraining orders, job training etc., actually receive any of this. 23% of 11% of countless abused women are getting help to escape their situation. 

When statistics like this are revealed, it’s no wonder that over half of these women are not condemning their abuse. The issue at hand is the endless abuse, the societal lack of consequence for the abuse, and a violent patriarchal society that justifies its violence to its victims. There are reasons that people who suffer abuse so frequently are trapped with their abuser. Often, these traps are financial; significantly more Turkish women are illiterate and less educated than Turkish men, meaning that the state is playing a huge part in women being unable to leave their abusers. If the state does not ensure women and men receive the same quality of education, and thus equal access to working opportunities, then many women have no option but to stay with their abuser, for her survival and that of any children she may have.

Traps are also emotional. 54% of women surveyed think their receipt of violence is justified if their husband ‘suspects’ their transgression. Therefore, it is the fault of a society that convinces women that they are absolutely responsible for their husband’s happiness and security – so much so that suspicion is enough to allow violence, putting fault on the woman who causes the man to become suspicious. The culture of toxic masculinity that has men believe violence is the immediate answer, is massively to blame for the suffering of all these women. Were men raised to seek other methods of dealing with conflict and emotion than power plays via physical or sexual violence, then gendered abuse figures would plummet. 

Instead of plugging an article blaming the women who think their abuse is acceptable, maybe the most significant issue to flag up is the hundreds of these individual women who are murdered, and who are allowed to believe that, on some level, they deserve it.