A total of 29 women in Turkey have been killed in incidents of domestic violence and 10 women died under suspicious circumstances in November, the Platform Against Femicide (KCDP) said in its monthly report.
The majority of women were murdered because they rejected a man’s romantic advances, rejected a marriage proposal, asked for a divorce or refused to reconcile with their estranged partners, according to the report. In some cases the reason for the murder could not be determined. The KCDP stressed that determining the reason for femicide is the first step in ensuring that the murderers are held accountable.
Referring to Özlem Zengin, a deputy from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) who said it was difficult to determine the reasons for femicide, the KCDP said the report laid out the details necessary to understand femicide and determine why women were killed and by whom.
The report added that 86 percent of the women did not have restraining orders for the person who killed them and most were shot to death in their home.
The KCDP said the government had a passive position towards femicide. They argue that the İstanbul Convention has not been effectively executed, especially Law No. 6284, which aims to protect women against violence. They added that the courts have given reduced sentences to men based on their good behavior and claimed they were provoked to violence by the women.
The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, also known as the İstanbul Convention, is the first European treaty specifically targeting violence against women and domestic violence. It was opened for signature in May 2011 in Istanbul and entered into force in August 2014.
The convention was signed by 45 of the Council of Europe member states and ratified by 34 of them, including Turkey. No state has ever withdrawn from it. Yet, the convention has been a matter of contention in Turkey. The Turkish government has debated withdrawing from the convention as conservative groups in society argue that it breaks the family apart. “Turkey’s decision to ratify the Istanbul Convention was “wrong,” ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Deputy Chair Numan Kurtulmuş said on July 2.
After signing it Turkey added Law No. 6284 to its Civil Code, which defines the rights of women who feel threatened in their homes. The provision has shortened the path to obtaining a restraining order against husbands who inflict violence. Pro-government columnists argue that Law No. 6284’s definition of violence is too broad and that it has invited the state into the domestic sphere.
The law also mentions people who are subjected to violence due to their sexual orientation, and it has been criticized by conservative journalists for promoting homosexuality.
The Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) refuted these claims and said, “These negative stances are the result of deliberate misrepresentations about the objectives and provisions of the treaty.”
Amnesty International warned on August 5 that Turkish authorities should fully implement the Istanbul Convention rather than withdraw from it.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) released a statement on September 11 and reaffirmed its support for the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence amid Turkey’s possible withdrawal from the treaty.
PACE said it regretted statements by politicians in Turkey who claimed that it had a hidden agenda and called for withdrawal from the İstanbul Convention. “Intentional distortion of its aims and talk about a hidden agenda aiming to redefine the concept of ‘family’ or regulating family life or structures are groundless claims at the service of defending, preserving and amplifying patriarchal structures,” it added.