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Turkish couple in financial straits commits suicide, leaving behind infant

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Elvan and Ender Demir, a married couple in their 20s, have committed suicide in the Zeytinburnu district of İstanbul due to financial problems, leaving behind their one-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Turkish media reported on Friday.

Elvan Demir, the mother, reportedly went to her sister’s house on Wednesday evening and left her daughter there, saying her husband was ill and that they were going to go to a hospital. The sister went back to the couple’s house, worried because she hadn’t heard from them for several hours, only to find them dead.

The bodies of the young couple were sent to the eastern province of Batman, their hometown, for burial, the reports said.

Sharing the incident on Twitter, Canan Kaftancıoğlu, the İstanbul provincial chair of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), said in a reference to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, “Those who claim there’s no poverty or hunger [in Turkey].”

“We don’t know whether to feel sorry for the young people who died, or their little child,” she said.

On Oct. 24, a shopkeeper told Erdoğan, who was traveling through Malatya province, that he couldn’t provide for his family. The president offered the shopkeeper a cup of tea and responded, “It sounds like an exaggeration to me; here, enjoy some tea.”

The exchange of words between Erdoğan and the shopkeeper sparked a backlash on social media as well as among the opposition.

According to official data released by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat), 4,801 people have died by suicide in Turkey due to financial problems since 2002, when the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power, with 1,370 of them taking place in the last five years.

Although the latest TurkStat data show 4.016 million unemployed in Turkey, the Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions (DİSK-AR) denies its accuracy, saying the actual figure is around 9.8 million.

December 2020 data from the Confederation of Turkish Trade Unions (Türk-İş) show the hunger line, which refers to the amount a family of four has to spend on basic food expenses, to be TL 2,592 ($346.60). The poverty line, which also includes the cost of rent and utilities for a family of four is TL 8,436 ($1,128).

Meanwhile, the net minimum wage announced for 2021 was TL 2,826 ($377.8), the lowest figure in US dollars for a monthly net minimum wage in the last 11 years.

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