At least five women were killed by men in one day amid nationwide protests against Turkey’s decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, a Council of Europe (CoE) treaty to prevent and combat violence against women.
According to the Duvar news website Özlem Yilmaz was killed by her husband, who she was in the process of divorcing. Nagihan Ü. was fatally shot by her police officer fiancé in western Izmir province. Beyzanur Özel was found dead in her home, and her husband of three months was arrested. Meral Sivrikaya was murdered by her husband, who entered her daughter’s apartment by climbing down from the roof using a rope. Serpil Fikirli was killed by her husband, against whom she had a restraining order.
The names of the women were shared widely by women’s activist groups on social media. Activists said the deaths were the result of the state’s failure to protect women against violence.
According to a report published earlier by Sezgin Tanrıkulu, a human rights defender and deputy from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), nearly 7,000 women have been victims of femicide during the 18 years that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been in power.
The report said one of the main reasons for the increase in deaths was because women were not taken seriously by law enforcement when they complained about violence. “Women go to the police and file a complaint against their partners after a violent incident,” said the report. “However, instead of taking the necessary legal steps against the perpetrators, the authorities act as conciliators and try to reconcile the partners.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issued an executive decree early on Saturday annulling Turkey’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention, the latest victory for conservatives in Erdoğan’s ruling AKP and their allies, who argued that the treaty damaged family unity. Turkey said domestic laws would protect women’s rights.
The Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, widely known as Istanbul Convention, was signed by 45 countries and the European Union in 2011 and requires governments to adopt legislation prosecuting domestic violence and similar abuse as well as marital rape and female genital mutilation.
Turkey was the first member state to ratify the CoE convention, which was opened for signature in Istanbul during Turkey’s chairmanship of the organization 10 years ago.
Thousands of women protested on Saturday against the government’s move in Istanbul and other cities.
The Women and Children First Association (Önce Kadın ve Çocuklar) appealed to the Council of State yesterday for the withdrawal to be canceled. According to the association, the executive decree was not valid.
“An international agreement that came into effect with the law cannot be annulled with a presidential decree,” they said.
Turkey’s decision to withdraw from the convention was met with criticism from several international leaders.
US President Joe Biden said Turkey’s withdrawal from the accord was “deeply disappointing” and a step backward in efforts to end violence against women globally.
High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and CoE Secretary-General Marija Pejcinovic were among European leaders who heavily criticized the withdrawal.
United Nations agencies also called on Turkey to reconsider its decision.