Thousands of women in Turkey took to the streets on Wednesday to demand that the government does not withdraw from a landmark treaty on preventing domestic violence.
The protests were the biggest in recent weeks as anger grows over the rising number of women killed by men in the past decade since the Istanbul Convention was agreed in 2011.
The convention is the world’s first binding instrument to prevent and combat violence against women, from marital rape to female genital mutilation.
Hundreds of women in Istanbul rallied in support of the treaty, an AFP correspondent said, holding placards saying “Women will not forgive violence”, “Apply the Istanbul Convention” and “Long live women’s solidarity”.
“Today, throughout Turkey and across political divides, all women need this convention. We are convinced that, with the strength of the women’s solidarity, we will prevent the withdrawal,” Benazir Coskun, 31, told AFP in Istanbul.
In the Aegean region of Izmir, police intervened to stop the women’s protest and dozens chose to start a sit-in protest, women’s rights group Nar Women’s Solidarity said on Twitter. The group claimed 10 women had been detained.
There were also protests in Ankara and in the southern cities of Adana and Antalya.
The demonstrations began last month after a ruling party official said the convention was “wrong” and speculated over possible withdrawal.
In recent years, women’s rights groups have accused authorities of failing to implement law 6284 — created following Turkey’s ratification of the treaty in 2012 — leaving women vulnerable to violence often by their partners, husbands or relatives.
But for some conservative groups and individuals, they claim the convention encourages homosexuality and is a force “destroying” the unity of Turkish families.
The issue has even appeared to divide the President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s family, with one association whose deputy chair is his daughter Sumeyye supporting the treaty while an organisation linked to his son Bilal has come out against the convention.
Rights group “We Will Stop Femicide Platform” says 146 women were killed by men in the first half of 2020.
The group says 474 women were killed last year while the figure was 180 in 2010.