Protests have stirred across Turkey in recent weeks as thousands of women have taken to the streets to rally against gender-based violence.
Wednesday saw some of the largest rallies yet in response to the rising femicide rates and violence against women in Turkey. Most recently, last month’s brutal murder of Pinar Gültekin, a 27-year-old university student, sparked great outrage and led to the latest outcry. According to We Will Stop Femicide, a platform working to end femicide and protect women’s rights, 474 Turkish women were murdered by men in 2019. This is double the number seen in 2011. Of those 474, 292 were killed in their homes and 134 women were killed by their husbands. So far in 2020, 205 women in Turkey have been killed.
Additional concerns for the safety of women in Turkey come from the government’s attempts to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, a treaty designed to combat and prevent gender-based violence. Signed in 2011, Turkey was the first country to ratify the groundbreaking convention. However, conservative lobbying groups have argued that it denigrates “family values” and promotes “LGBT lifestyles” and has urged the Turkish government to entirely abandon the treaty.
Lobbyists seem to ignore the violence against women in their argument. “Because they aren’t able to openly say they want women as their domestic slaves and the freedom to beat women at will, they latch onto LGBT+ rights as a more ‘socially acceptable’ pretext to attack the convention, hoping rampant homophobia will do the trick,” said Feride Eralp, a member of the Women are Stronger Together platform. Another women’s rights activist and Daily Sabah editorial coordinator, Meryem Ilayda Atlas, said, “Those who want Turkey to leave the convention usually don’t accept that there is specific violence against women.”
Protestors have shown their support for the treaty, holding signs reading “The Istanbul Convention is born out of women’s blood,” and “We will not allow femicides”. Some held banners with the names of the murdered women and read the names aloud, demanding that their names aren’t next to be read.
Leaders of the ruling Justice and Development Party were expected to announce their decision on the convention on August 5. Their meeting has not yet taken place and they are now set to decide whether or not to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention sometime next week.
Sources: We Will Stop Femicide Platform; CNN 8/5/20; The Independent 8/6/20