Turkey’s Interior Ministry accused of hiding femicide statistics

Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

The Turkish Ministry of Interior said the number of femicides in Turkey dropped in the first 10 months of 2020, but they have not disclosed the exact numbers, which makes the statistics unreliable according to women’s organizations, the Birgün daily reported.

The Interior Ministry, in a report published on its website, said femicide dropped 27 percent in comparison to the first 10 months of 2019. Women’s rights activist and lawyer Tuba Torun, who spoke to Birgün, said the ministry did not disclose the exact number of women who were murdered, which made their statement dubious.

Torun said the media has been reporting new murders each day, which has made it imperative that the ministry publish the exact number of women who have been killed. “We don’t think murdered women are just numbers, but it is important to lay out the statistics in detail because women are being increasingly deprived of their right to life,” she said.

Torun said the government had a passive position towards femicide. “The Istanbul Convention is not effectively executed, especially Law No. 6284, which aims to protect women against violence,” she said, adding that courts have given reduced sentences to men based on their good behavior and that they were provoked to violence by the woman. “The courts have used these excuses as extenuating circumstances and have sentenced men to 15 years instead of life in prison.”

The Istanbul Convention, also known as the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, 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 No state has ever withdrawn from it.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,” 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.

PACE released a statement on September 11 and reaffirmed its support for the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention, 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 Istanbul 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.

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