Turkish women’s rights activist to receive Germany’s Anne Klein Women’s Award 2021

Photo: Twitter - Mor Çatı

Canan Arın, 78, a Turkish lawyer and women’s rights activist, has been announced as the recipient of Germany’s Anne Klein Women’s Award 2021, according to a statement on Wednesday from the Heinrich Böll Foundation, which bestows the award, Turkish Minute reported.

Arın, who has been campaigning for the improvement of women’s rights in Turkey for more than 40 years and is among the founders of the Mor Çatı Kadın Sığınağı Vakfı (Purple Roof Women’s Shelter Foundation), will accept the 10,000 euro award at a ceremony in Berlin on March 5.

Mor Çatı, established in 1990, is Turkey’s first independent women’s shelter where women who are victims of domestic violence are able to seek refuge.

A statement from the Heinrich Böll Foundation praised Arın for her contribution to the ratification of the İstanbul Convention by Turkey in 2012 as well as for her efforts to keep Turkey in the convention.

There are increasing calls from the conservative circles in Turkey to cancel its ratification of the convention on the grounds that it has destroyed families by introducing “foreign terminology” to traditional Turkish values and the law.

The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, known as the İstanbul Convention,  is the world’s first binding instrument to prevent and combat violence against women, from marital rape to female genital mutilation.

Heinrich Böll Foundation Chair Barbara Unmüßig, who also sits on the award jury, said thousands of women like Arın are putting up a fight to lead their lives free of violence despite backsliding in policies concerning women.

Unmüßig criticized some politicians in Turkey who hold the woman, not the man, responsible in cases of domestic violence, adding that countries such as Bulgaria and Hungary, which ratified the İstanbul Convention, are also considering withdrawal from it.

According to the “Justice and Development Party (AKP)-era Human Rights Report,” recently drafted by a main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy, while Turkey was ranked 130th among 140 countries in the World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index in 2016, its ranking was 131 in 2017, 130 among 149 countries in 2018 and 130 again among 153 countries in 2020.

In addition, the number of domestic violence cases has increased to 400 per thousand over the last decade, and at least 7,500 women have been killed by men over the past 18 years, according to the same report.

Anne Klein — after whom the award was named — is described by the Heinrich Böll Foundation on its website as a “champion of women’s rights and same-sex lifestyles.” She died in 2011. The Heinrich Böll Foundation, named after the late German novelist and peace campaigner, is affiliated with Germany’s Greens Party.

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