Sunday, January 10, 2021

Turkey: Gender-based violence

There has unfortunately been no setback and no development that could be considered positive in male violence against women in 2020. 260 women were killed within the first 11 months of 2020. At least 92 women were raped, while 136 women were harassed and 731 women were subjected to violence.

The conditions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic that left numerous individuals unemployed or enclosed at home have brought along much more severe conditions for women. Lockdowns in almost all countries around the world led to an escalation in sexual, economic and physical violence against women. Observation reports published in Turkey also point to a similar state of affairs for women. According to April and May 2020 reports4 published by the We Will End Femicide Platform, the rate of women who called the support lines increased by 55% and 78% in April and May respectively.

Many events planned for the 8 March International Women’s Day faced bans and interventions this year too. The 8 March Feminist Night March that has been held since 2003 but intervened into in 2019 was also banned by the İstanbul Governor’s Office in 2020.The police used tear gas and rubber bullets against women who assembled in Sıraselviler Street in İstanbul. At least 32 women were taken into police custody.

The police intervened into the protest held on 15 May 2020 in İstanbul, Kadıköy on the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia and took two persons into custody using physical violence.

The police also intervened into a sit-in staged in Batman’s Atatürk Park to protest the sexual assault of a young girl by a specialist sergeant in Batman and took 10 persons into custody including children.

The police intervened into a march following a press conference, to protest the murder of Pınar Gültekin by a man called Cemal Metin Avcı, held by Women Are Strong Together Platform in İzmir, Alsancak on 21 July 2020 while taking 12 persons into custody using physical force.

Moreover, in February 2020 at a meeting with AKP deputies and central executive board members, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated that the İstanbul Convention would be reviewed. In the disputes that followed, statements like “(the convention) disrupted the Turkish family structure” and “provided legal grounds for homosexuality” made the İstanbul Convention a target. The Council of

Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, a.k.a. the İstanbul Convention, which sets forth the basic standards for the prevention of and combat gender-based and domestic violence against women along with states’ responsibilities to this end, had been ratified by the GNAT on 24 November 2011. Numerous women staged mass protests stating that the standards against violence, which have already been implemented insufficiently, would be terminated in their entirety if Turkey withdraws its signature from this convention.

The police did not allow a forum on the İstanbul Convention scheduled to be held on 26 July 2020 in İstanbul, Beşiktaş Abbasağa Park by the Women Are Strong Together Collective on the grounds of a ban decision delivered by the governor’s office. The police took 8 persons into custody by using physical violence following the end of the forum.

The police intervened into a march organized by İzmir Women’s Platform demanding the implementation of the İstanbul Convention on 5 August 2020 in İzmir and took 16 persons into custody
using physical violence and rear-handcuffing the protestors. It was reported that following the sit-in staged for the release of those in custody, 5 more people were taken into custody.

The police intervened into a press conference held on 12 August 2020 by Ankara Women’s Platform
to protest Turkey’s withdrawal from the İstanbul Convention and took 33 persons into custody using physical violence.

The police did not allow a press conference and march scheduled by Women’s Committees on the occasion of 25 November International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in İstanbul,
Taksim. The police blockaded women who staged a sit-in before the police barricades for about 5 hours, then took 10 women into custody rear-handcuffing them and using physical violence. It was reported that a woman was wounded during the intervention.


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