Families of murdered women defend anti-femicide group in Turkish court

The families of women murdered by men demonstrated Wednesday in defense of a prominent Turkish anti-femicide campaign group accused of activity against law and morals, Agence France-Presse reported.

Prosecutors had filed a case in April against the We Will Stop Femicide Platform, one of the country’s leading feminist organizations. If it loses in court, it could be shut down.

The group has been campaigning against the murder and abuse of women since its foundation in 2010.

Protesters gathered alongside the families of murdered women outside Istanbul’s main courthouse ahead of the third hearing in the case, unfurling a large banner that said, “The platform will not stop. Women’s murders will stop.”

“We will defend the rights of everyone whose lives were stolen in this country,” group representative Gülsüm Kav told reporters.

The We will Stop Femicide Platform was founded a year after the high-profile murder case of 18-year-old Münevver Karabulut, whose body had been dumped into a trashcan in İstanbul.

The grisly murder sparked widespread uproar and revulsion, especially after the suspect managed to evade justice for more than six months.

In early days the platform brought attention only to femicide trials, but they now track all types of violence against women as well as LGBTQ individuals and children.

The group says 69 women have been killed in Turkey since January of this year, after 397 last year and 427 in 2021.

Figen Yetişkin, a mother whose daughter was murdered, said the platform supported her in more than a dozen court hearings and provided legal assistance, including hiring a lawyer.

“They always stood by me in court. Contrary to its shutdown, I believe that the platform should be bolstered and supported more,” she told the court.

“They taught me I am a woman and I have rights, they supported me in 16 hearings for the arrest of my daughter’s murderer,” she said.

“They walked together with me, and I will walk together with them forever.”

‘Make our voice heard’

Saadet Irem Karlıdağ told the court the platform gave her family enormous support in shedding light on the murder of her aunt.

“My aunt was killed in daylight right before our eyes. We could make our voices heard thanks to the We Will Stop Femicide Platform,” she said.

“They didn’t leave us alone. And today I stand by them. I believe this case is unlawful.”

The judge adjourned proceedings on Wednesday until Sept. 13.

The association was a vocal critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s decision in 2021 to pull Turkey out of the Istanbul Convention, which requires countries to set up laws aimed at preventing and prosecuting violence against women.

Social conservatives in Turkey say the convention promotes homosexuality and threatens traditional family values.

“This case is aimed at civil society, and will deeply affect human rights defenders as well as LGBTQ advocates,” Polat Yamaner, a lawyer for Turkey’s Human Rights Foundation, told the court.

“If this unjust case is dropped, I will feel I am a lawyer again on this symbolic day,” said another lawyer, Nazan Moroğlu, referring to April 5, Lawyers’ Day, in Turkey, in comments that received applause from the audience.

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