Women’s rights activists demand reinstatement of Istanbul Convention after 2 more femicides

Two women were murdered by their partners on Thursday, causing an outcry among women’s rights activists, who demanded reinstatement of the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty to combat violence against women, Turkish media reported.

Seyhan Gözer, 44, was murdered and dumped in a forest in Kocaeli province by her boyfriend, with whom she wanted to break up. Another woman, Şebnem Şirin, 23, was also murdered by a man she wanted to break up with in Denizli province. Both incidents took place the same day.

The number of known femicides has reached 296 this year according to the We Will Stop Femicide Platform.

In September alone 26 women were murdered by a man, and 19 died under suspicious circumstances.

Justice and Development Party (AKP) Vice Chairman Ömer Çelik said at a press meeting yesterday that femicide was not a political discussion and refused to answer questions about the increasing cases.

The platform criticized Çelik in a tweet posted yesterday, saying it was a political discussion since it was the government’s responsibility to protect women from violence.

Gender-based violence is a serious problem in Turkey. According to a report published earlier by Sezgin Tanrıkulu,  a human rights defender and Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker, nearly 7,000 women have been victims of femicide during the 18 years that the AKP has been in power.

Despite the alarming data, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issued a decree on March 20 withdrawing Turkey from the Council of Europe (CoE) Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention, an international accord designed to protect women’s rights and prevent domestic violence in societies, sparking outrage in Turkey and the international community.

Turkey, the first member state to ratify the CoE convention, which was opened for signature in İstanbul during Turkey’s chairmanship of the organization 10 years ago, ironically has also become the first state to announce its withdrawal from it.

The Council of State, Turkey’s highest administrative court, rejected an appeal demanding cancellation of the presidential decree in June.

World leaders, including US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, international and regional organizations and rights groups have reacted negatively to Turkey’s decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention.

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