“Activists say violence against women in the EU-candidate country has reached an alarming level and point the finger at the judicial authorities and the ruling Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party, or AKP.

In February and March, 52 women were killed by men, according to a tally by BIAnet, a news site focusing on human rights abuses.

The figure was at least 217 for last year, and 27 percent of them were killed after asking for a divorce.

From 2002 to 2009, the number of women killed in pre-meditated murders rose 14-fold, according to Justice Ministry statistics that do not provide details on the perpetrators and circumstances.

“The problem in Turkey has reached the level of ‘gendercide,’” said Hülya Gülbahar, a leading women’s rights activist.

Women have long been victims of violence, including honor killings, in a country where patriarchal traditions persist.

But critics argue the problem has been compounded in recent years by the AKP’s advocacy of conservative values.

“The AKP’s conservatism and Islam target the woman’s body and sexuality,” said Pınar İlkkaracan, a rights campaigner.”