Women’s Rights in Turkey: 2022 in Review

Source: Mezopotamya Ajansı

The increase in rights violations against women in Turkey continued in 2022, with a rising number of femicide cases, bans on events organized by rights groups and detentions of women protesting gender-based violence.

Turkey’s top administrative court in July ruled that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had the right to pull the country out of the Istanbul Convention, a Council of Europe treaty designed to prevent violence and domestic abuse against women. Erdoğan’s political opponents argued that the president did not have the power to unilaterally withdraw the country from an international agreement.

In 2022 femicides and violence against women remained serious problems in Turkey, where women are killed, raped or beaten every day. Many critics said the main reason behind the situation has been the policies of the Turkish government, which protects violent and abusive men by granting them impunity. According to the We Will Stop Femicide Platform (Kadın Cinayetlerini Durduracağız Platformu), at least 392 women were murdered by men and 226 women died under suspicious circumstances during the year.

In addition, rights activists criticized courts handing down reduced sentences to perpetrators of gender-based violence on the grounds that they were “provoked,” saying it created a culture of impunity. Article 29 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) has often been used to reduce sentences for men accused of such crimes on the grounds that the victim provoked the murder with her actions.

Here is some of the most important news from 2022 in the field of women’s rights:

Turkey’s top court said Erdoğan had the right to withdraw from women’s treaty

Turkey’s top administrative court in July ruled that President Erdoğan had the right to pull Turkey out of a European convention against gender-based violence. The Council of State rejected a request to annul Erdoğan’s decision in a case that included testimony from leading women’s rights advocates and legal scholars. More..

Opposition slammed top court for refusing to annul Erdoğan’s withdrawal from women’s treaty

Turkish opposition parties criticized Turkey’s top administrative court for refusing to annul President Erdoğan’s decision to pull Turkey out of a European convention against gender-based violence.

Following the ruling by the top court, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu vowed to reinstate the treaty once they came to power. “I have a promise for this nation. When we come to power, we will put the Istanbul Convention back into force in the first week, even within the first 24 hours,” Kılıçdaroğlu said. More..

UN rapporteur urged Turkey to rejoin women’s treaty

Reem Alsalem, UN Special Rapporteur for Violence Against Women and Girls. Photo: Twitter @UNGeneva

Reem Alsalem, the UN rapporteur on violence against women, urged Turkey in July to reverse its decision to drop out of the Istanbul Convention. Alsalem expressed “profound regret” at President Erdoğan’s decision in 2021 to leave the convention that Turkey took pride in helping draft more than a decade ago. More..

 

392 women fell victim to femicide in Turkey in 2022

At least 392 women were murdered by men and 226 women died under suspicious circumstances in Turkey in 2022, although the government claimed that the number of femicides in the country was trending downward, according to data from the We Will Stop Femicide Platform.

Two hundred eighty women were killed by men in 2021, with 217 suspicious deaths the same year. More..

7,071 women murdered by men in Turkey during 19-year-long AKP rule

A report released by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Sezgin Tanrıkulu on the occasion of International Women’s Day showed an upward trend in cases of domestic violence in Turkey during the 19-year rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which had witnessed the killing of 7,071 women by men. More..

Nearly 40 percent of women in Turkey subjected to violence: HRW senior Turkey researcher

Around four out of 10 women in Turkey suffered physical and/or sexual violence during their lives, said Emma Sinclair Webb, Human Rights Watch (HRW) senior Turkey researcher with the Europe and Central Asia division, in an interview with her colleague Birgit Schwarz.

Webb said this was unacceptable as nearly 40 percent of women suffered from violence or stalking. More..

Turkish women’s rights activists criticized reduced sentences on grounds of ‘provocation’ in gender-based violence cases

Turkish women’s rights activists criticized courts handing down reduced sentences to perpetrators of gender-based violence on the grounds that they were “provoked,” saying it created a culture of impunity. They said by issuing reduced sentences based on provocation, the courts were saying victims deserved to be killed or hurt.

Article 29 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK) has been often used to reduce sentences for men accused of such crimes on the grounds that the victim provoked the murder with her actions. More..

Turkish Supreme Court of Appeals president said femicide cases in Turkey exaggerated

President of Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals Mehmet Akarca said in a controversial remark in January that femicide was exaggerated in Turkey as the number of women killed was not as nearly as high as in Europe.

“Femicide occurs two times more frequently in Europe, but some people are creating the impression that it is a huge problem in Turkey,” he said during the court’s annual evaluation meeting.

Feminist groups criticized Akarca’s statement, saying he was normalizing femicide. More..

18 women appeared in court for participating in demonstration against withdrawal from Istanbul Convention

Eighteen women had their first court hearing in February in Turkey’s Izmir province for participating in an August 2020 demonstration against government plans to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention. More..

3 women detained by police acting without a warrant for attending demonstration

Turkish police in January detained three women during a raid on their homes in Istanbul, despite not having a warrant ordering their detention. The women allegedly participated in a demonstration in Istanbul’s Taksim Square to raise awareness about violence against women on November 25, 2021 and were accused of insulting President Erdoğan. More..

9 women detained in Ankara for demanding free feminine hygiene products

Turkish police dispersed a group of women in the Turkish capital of Ankara in January who wanted to stage a protest demanding free feminine hygiene products, detaining nine of them. More..

Governor’s office banned annual Feminist Night March in Istanbul

The İstanbul Governor’s Office in March announced that there had been many calls on social media inviting people to demonstrations in Taksim to mark International Women’s Day. The office said all demonstrations and marches, including sit-ins and handing out leaflets, were prohibited. More..

Police detained 12 women’s rights activists in southeastern Diyarbakır province

Turkish police detained 12 women’s rights activists in southeastern Diyarbakır province after raids on their homes due to their participation in International Women’s Day demonstrations on March 8.

Adalet Kaya from the Diyarbakır-based Rosa Women’s Association, former Diyarbakır co-mayor from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Filiz Buluttekin and Fatma Yıldızhan from the Trade Union of Public Employees in Health and Social Services (SES) were among those who were detained. More..

Hundreds rallied against threat to close Turkish women’s rights group

Hundreds of people demonstrated in April in several Turkish cities including İstanbul and Ankara against a move to close one of the country’s most respected women’s rights groups. “It is not possible to stop our fight. We are not going to allow the closure of our association,” the secretary-general of We Will Stop Femicide said.

An İstanbul prosecutor filed a case aimed at shutting down the association for “activity against law and morals.” More..

20 Iranian women detained in İstanbul at protest over death of Mahsa Amini

İstanbul police detained 20 Iranian women in September for staging a demonstration in a prohibited area in protest of the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in the custody of Iran’s morality police.

Iranian women in Turkey held protests in İstanbul and İzmir, carrying placards bearing photos and the name of Amini and chanting the slogans “Freedom for women,” “No to compulsory hijab” and “We are Mahsa Amini” in Persian. More..

Turkish women’s organizations said authorities turned blind eye to sexual harassment from local men but quick to blame migrants

Following accusations that migrant men sexually harassed Turkish women, women’s organizations said authorities were quick to blame migrants but turned a blind eye to harassment committed by local men.

The women’s organizations said migrants were used as scapegoats but that local men were often granted impunity when it came to sexual harassment cases. More..

Hundreds demonstrated in Turkey as groups fight for women’s rights in court

Hundreds of people rallied outside Turkey’s highest administrative court in June as it was examining a case hoping to overturn the country’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention.

Feminist groups, human rights campaigners and representatives of bar associations across Turkey called for the withdrawal from the convention to be scrapped. More..

8 members of a women’s platform detained in İstanbul at protest over domestic violence

Source: UN Women

Police detained eight members of Avcılar Kadın Platformu, an İstanbul-based women’s platform, in November for staging a demonstration in a prohibited area.

The platform members gathered to protest violence against women and to call on Turkish women to participate in a demonstration to be held on November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. More..

Turkish police prevented demonstrations by women’s groups, detained dozens of protestors

Dozens of women who gathered in various Turkish provinces on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity and Elimination of Violence against Women, marked on November 25, were detained, while marches were blocked by the police in a number of cities.

Twenty-five women who were marching in Turkey’s eastern provinces of Şırnak, Ağrı and Van were detained, including the HDP provincial and district presidents and elderly members of the Saturday Mothers. More..

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