Culture of violence makes for hit TV in Turkey

Thu Sep 18, 2014 12:49pm EDT
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By Selin Bucak

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Sefer Calinak killed his first wife when he was 17 and murdered his girlfriend a few decades later with an axe. Now, the 62-year old is making the rounds on hit Turkish TV shows, part of a ratings race increasingly driven by a thirst for violence.

From breakfast shows playing CCTV footage of robberies and road rage incidents to punch-ups in parliament on the nightly news, Turkish television is saturated with images of brutality - a symptom and perhaps cause, psychiatrists and rights workers say, of a culture increasingly numb to violence.

"Why would a man kill?" prime-time talk show host Seda Sayan asked Calinak, who served two separate prison sentences for the murders before being released under an amnesty program.

"The devil pushed her into a grave that she dug herself," he replied, appearing on her TV show this month after taking part in a hit dating series called "Luck of the Draw" in May, in search of a new partner.

Yakup Kara, who is awaiting trial accused of stabbing his wife 43 times with a screwdriver, was a guest of rival talk show host Songul Karli a few days earlier.

Karli described Kara as a "gentleman", prompting applause from men in the audience, one of whom blamed the wife, who survived the attack, for having an active social life.

Convictions for premeditated murder have more than doubled in the decade since 2003, according to Justice Ministry figures, while a 2011 U.N. report indicated that domestic violence rates were almost twice those in the United States, and 10 times higher than in some European countries.

Attacks on doctors and nurses at overstretched state hospitals are also spiraling, with an average of 30 health workers every day subjected to violence last year, according to the Istanbul Chamber of Physicians.   Continued...