Earlier this week, hundreds of Turkish women took to the streets in a protest against possible Turkish withdrawal of the Istanbul Convention, which was signed in 2011 to address violence against women, demanding "better implementation" instead.
Patriarchy still kills thousands woman. Thousands woman killed by intimate partners and family members in 2017— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) July 21, 2020
Istanbul Convention isn't enough to stop this truth
Istanbul convention: https://t.co/qrw2Yeb6Ml
Action is most important need thing to "Stop Femicide and Patriarchy" https://t.co/tuKCKFgBD7
Statements, made by the deputy chairman of the ruling party in Turkey headed by the President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the possibility of withdrawing from an international agreement aimed to combat violence against women, have sparked a lot of controversy in the country, especially as the local community continues to report a spike in domestic violence incidents during the last few months.
While it's still unclear if the growing number of crimes, committed against women in Turkey and other countries in the region, is due to COVID-19 lockdowns, worsening economic conditions or other reasons, the possibility of rescinding the Istanbul convention has angered many Turkish women and feminist activists, who argued that the country still needs to take women's safety more seriously.
According to the Middle East Institute, Turkish law enforcement agencies reported a total of 88,491 domestic abuse-related incidents between January 1 and May 20 of 2020, including 81 women killed.
“We, women, warn you”: Women slam AKP Vice Chair Kurtulmuş for hinting that Turkey may consider withdrawing from İstanbul Convention: “It will mean the legitimization of male violence by the state” https://t.co/3JManrCgzr pic.twitter.com/ysa99r9xzG— bianet English (@bianet_eng) July 6, 2020
Many commentators have also questioned recent Turkish policies and pointed at possible attempts to make the country more conservative.
The latest legislative actions promoting censorship of social media, normalising hate crimes against LGBTQ people through government practices. Everyday the country is drifting away from global values. As a half-Turkish person this worries me a lot.— Aaron Armstrong (@AaronEArmstrong) July 21, 2020
According to Turkish women, targeting the convention goes against the urgent need for Turkish strict laws to protect women who face violence at the hands of the men in their lives.
End #GBV and domestic #violence everywhere!— Ani Shakarishvili,MD (@AniShakari) September 25, 2019
Heartbreaking and chilling installation of 440 pairs of shoes on the Istanbul city walls symbolizes the number of women killed by their husbands this year in #Turkey...https://t.co/pgrmYMrPkS #genderequality #humanrights pic.twitter.com/fZw1ByIPgL
The Turkish debate comes at a time many Middle Eastern women are speaking up against femicide; especially after several women were killed in Jordan and Palestine in less than a week, in addition to a hot month of debates over women's rights in Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region.
Additionally, the controversial remarks made by the deputy chairman of the Justice and Development ruling party have coincided with growing criticism of Erdogan's "Islamization" policies in the country, especially after he pushed for a constitutional order to change historic Hagia Sophia's status from being a museum to a mosque.
You know what doesn’t matter? Hagia Sophia becoming a mosque. That’s meaningless political theatre.— Can Okar (@canokar) July 11, 2020
You know what does? Threatening to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
That’s a real threat.
Similarly, Turkish media outlets have highlighted an attempt by government officials to stop Netflix shows filmed in the country, citing "including gay characters and themes."
Netflix cancelled their Turkish productions because RTÜK did not allow a gay theme to be in a tv show...it’s 2020. Nice to see Turkey go backwards as always while other countries are developing and becoming more accepting. #NetflixTurkiye— Sarp Şardan (@sardansarp) July 19, 2020
TW / murder / violence against women— acab ミ☆ (@letsbians) July 21, 2020
women are dying in turkey. women are being murdered by men every day in turkey and the country is busy trying to ban netflix for the gay shows just know that women are not safe in this country #pinargultekin pic.twitter.com/EEeMkbJ9TB
Most recently, Turkish local media reported finding the body of a 20-something-year-old woman allegedly killed by her boyfriend, who stored her body in a concrete-covered barrel, triggering a strong public reaction.
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