Hande Kader, a trans woman sex worker was found dead on August 12 in a forestland in Zekeriyaköy, a remote neighborhood in Istanbul, after being reported missing for one week. The autopsy report revealed that she had been raped, beaten and burnt while she was still alive. She was last seen when she entered the automobile of her customer. Her roommate Davut Dengiler identified her dead body in a morgue for unidentified people.
According to the report released by the European based monitoring institution Trans-Europe, within Europe, Turkey has the highest number of trans murders. The most dangerous country for trans people worldwide is identified by the same institution as being Brazil. In any case, as the first sentence of the report says, “there is no safe country on earth for trans people”. According to local official data, 9 trans people were murdered in Turkey throughout the last year. Records of the last 8 years reveal that 45 trans women were murdered, almost all of them in the most brutal of ways. No single perpetrator of those murders was caught and brought to court. Despite the lack of proper recording systems, those numbers illustrate the severity of the situation, concerning both the inefficiency of public authorities in taking measures to prevent those murders and the general indifference of the Turkish society with regard to violence against LGBTI people.
Similar to that of previous victims, Hande Kader’s case didn’t make it to the headlines of mainstream media. The LGBTI community, human rights and feminist organizations protested the lack of interest in her murder and criticized the hypocrisy which eventually blamed the victim herself on the grounds that she was both a trans person and a sex worker. Thanks to the campaigns of those groups, the case soon gained publicity and photos and videos of Hande Kader depicting her during the “outlawed” Trans-parade in 2015 on the central Istiklal Street where she persistently stood against water cannons and was shoved around by the police. Hande Kader, it turned out, was a devoted LGBTI activist, who attended demonstrations on the front lines, to draw attention to various problems of her community.
In order to protest Hande Kader’s murder, the last hoop in a long chain of hate crimes, LGBTI groups and women’s organizations gathered on the 21st of August under the slogan, that “trans murders are political” and asked for justice for both Hande and all the others who were victims of the “state-backed male violence”. They demanded a hate-crime-law to be implemented for preventing further crimes against LGBTI people, which would at least be a remedy for the “never ending mourning and trauma” of the members of this community. Nevertheless it won’t be wrong to say that such a law or any kind of implementation in this regard does not seem to be on the government agenda, at least in the short run.