A judge at the İstanbul 58th Penal Court of First Instance sparked criticism from women’s rights activists after saying during a hearing that women should not be demonstrating against femicide.
According to the Duvar news website, the judge said men were also murdered every day but that they did not mobilize and demonstrate. “The number of men getting killed is double the number of women. So what? Should we also demonstrate?” he asked.
The controversial remark was made during the hearing of 35 women who were standing trial for demonstrating against femicide on March 8, 2020 in a “Femicide Night March” in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district. The women were accused of violating the law on demonstrations, preventing the police from carrying out their duties and damaging public property.
During the hearing defendant Zeynep Büşra Islak said she was exercising her constitutional right to peacefully demonstrate. “The police forcefully detained us while we were peacefully demonstrating,” she said. “I don’t accept any of the accusations.”
Emel Karadeniz, another defendant, said women were being killed, raped and arbitrarily fired from their jobs every day. “I wish we could demonstrate with more women,” she said. “You [the judge] are also free to demonstrate if you think authorities should do more to prevent the killing of men.”
The defendants said they were also protesting Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, the Council of Europe’s binding treaty to prevent and combat violence against women.
They pointed out that the state had failed to protect women by withdrawing from the convention, an international accord designed to protect women’s rights and prevent domestic violence in societies.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan withdrew Turkey from the convention on March 20, despite high statistics of violence targeting women in the country and drawing condemnation from Turks and the international community.
A survey conducted in March by Metropoll revealed that 52.3 percent of Turks were against the withdrawal from the convention. While more than a majority of participants opposed it, 26.7 percent approved and 10.2 percent had no opinion.
Femicides and violence against women are serious problems in Turkey, where women get killed, raped or beaten every day. Many critics say the main reason behind the situation is the policies of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, which protects violent and abusive men by granting them impunity.