Women’s group in Turkey collects 600,000 signatures for Istanbul Convention

The women’s rights group We Want to Live Initiative submitted to the Turkish parliament 600,000 signatures they collected in favour of a Council of Europe document on the prevention of violence against women known as the Istanbul Convention, news website Bianet reported on Wednesday.

The initiative requests that the Turkish authorities comply better with the CoE Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, and Turkey’s own Law No.6284 to Protect the Family and Prevent Violence against Women.

“We demand the authorities fulfil their duties to end violence against women,” the initiative’s spokeswoman Didar Gül said in a press statement in Izmir on Wednesday to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. “We know that femicides and rapes are on the rise as male justice issues more verdicts awarding murderers with impunity, and women who enact self-defence are punished.”

The Turkish government and conservative circles have been discussing whether to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, saying that some provisions are incompatible with the moral character of Turkish society. However, the convention is supported by a wide base in the country, including some prominent conservative women’s groups.

This summer saw ongoing demonstrations in Turkey in support of the convention, with feminist and women’s organisations standing against the country’s possible withdrawal from the Convention, and demanding better adherence to international treaties and domestic laws.

According to a report by feminist group the We Will End Femicide Platform, 21 women were murdered by men in October and eight others were found dead in suspicious circumstances. Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, speaking at a police event on Monday, said murders of women were exaggerated and that 2020 saw only 234 women killed in Turkey instead of the 353 that the femicide watchdog Counter Monument documented.

The Counter Monument is run by women and gathers data on femicides from reports in the media. Turkish ministries do not publish statistics on violence against women and domestic violence.