| 15 April 2024, Monday |

Turkey’s feminists demand accountability after surge in women murdered

Women in Turkey are being murdered in unprecedented numbers because legislation designed to protect them from domestic violence was not implemented.

Yazgul Soro was 57 when her husband murdered her last year in the city of Izmir, according to the Turkish campaign group We Will End Femicide.

She left six sons and daughters behind.

Fatih Alsan murdered his former girlfriend, Yasemin Aydin, 41, before fleeing to Istanbul and eventually turning himself in to the police, Turkish media reported.

And Ece Cicek was just 18 when her husband took her life in their house in Konya, a city south of Ankara.

Her family remember her as bright, thoughtful and caring.

In these cases, as in hundreds of others, the men accused displayed obsessive and controlling behaviour towards their victims, according to media reports.

Last year, 282 women were killed in incidents of domestic violence in Turkey.

Until March, women in Turkey had the law on their side to confront abusers in the form of restraining orders that were automatically renewed under the terms of the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, known more commonly as the Istanbul Convention.

But on March 20, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made a sudden overnight announcement that Turkey was withdrawing from the convention.

The treaty ironically carries the name of Istanbul because it was opened for ratification in the city in 2011 and came into force in 2014. Turkey is the first state to pull out of it.

In response to the withdrawal, women across Turkey launched campaigns on social media in protest, while demonstrations convulsed Istanbul and other key cities.

In the most extreme cases, violence against women is lethal. Globally, an estimated 137 women are killed by their intimate partner or a family member every day, UN Women says.

Many of the victims are trapped at home with their abusers.

The Istanbul Convention sets minimum standards on prevention of violence, protection and support for women and girls at risk, and the criminal prosecution of perpetrators.

The government says that a law adopted in 2012 adequately protects women against violence, while the convention threatens family values.

With the number of divorce cases on the increase, the government says the law encourages women to seek same-sex relationships. It also says there are many laws in Turkey that empower women and protect their rights.

The 2012 Protect the Family and Prevent Violence against Women law says women who report domestic abuse have a right to protection and allows for restraining orders against abusive partners.

It also allows women to change their credentials and relocate with their children.