HDP Istanbul MP Özçelik warns about the growing number of femicides

Tuğçe Özçelik from the Women's Defense Network says the growing number of femicides in Turkey and Northern Kurdistan after the government withdrew from the Istanbul Convention was foreseeable.

Turkey was the first to sign the Istanbul Convention on the Protection of Women from Violence ten years ago. On July 1, Turkey left the convention with a decree signed by President Erdoğan (AKP). Before the presidential decree came into force, there were massive protests, particularly from the women's movement. But the AKP and MHP were determined to push through their misogyny policies. From the day the government announced it was leaving the convention, the number of femicides began to rise. The government said Turkish criminal law provisions were sufficient, but countless women who had turned to the police for protection have been sent back to meet their abusive husbands.

At least 124 femicides in four months

HDP Istanbul MP Oya Ersoy said in a press release that a total of 124 women had been murdered in the four months following the announcement of the withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention. According to the women's platform “We will stop femicides”, five femicides were registered between 10 and 12 August alone.

Even if the murder of Azra Gülendam Haytaoğlu generated wide coverage, Eda Nur Kaplan's suicide shows that nothing is being done to prevent violence against women and femicides. After two men who sexually assaulted Kaplan were released without effective investigation, the young woman committed suicide, believing that there was no other option.

"We knew such days would come"

Tuğçe Özçelik from the Women's Defense Network told ANF about the shocking reality of the past four months: “On 1 July, the government unilaterally withdrew from the Istanbul Convention. Since then we have lost many of the mechanisms used to protect women from violence in public places, at home or on the street. The withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention made the deaths of Azra and Eda Nur possible. Immediately after Erdoğan's announcement that Turkey would withdraw from the convention, we witnessed three femicides. We knew that days like today would come."

"Eda Nur's death is not a suicide"

Özçelik said that the Istanbul Convention had a protective effect, but at the same time it also deterred violent criminals. “The convention showed both women and the perpetrators of violence that women are not alone and unprotected. It was a convention that focused on preventing violence. This included not only the moment of violence itself, but also the run-up to it."

The activist emphasizes the character of the convention as a treaty that combats gender inequality in every area and points out the necessity of it. “Let’s to put it this way, Eda Nur Kaplan was forced to commit suicide. So it's actually a murder. Azra was also brutally murdered. These murders have shown again the importance of the Convention. On the other hand, we have already said that it would not be enough for us for Turkey to sign the Istanbul Convention again; it has to implement its provisions. The women started the fight demanding that the terms of the convention be implemented.”

Özçelik said: “Yes, the government has taken protection away from women. But still women showed their solidarity on the streets and everywhere else. We were not able to save the lives of Azra and Eda Nur, but the solidarity of the women will enforce the necessary protective mechanisms for the women who go to the police station after 1 July. When we are exposed to violence and scream at home, we know we have a neighbour who will hear us. We are still fighting for the Istanbul Convention to be signed and effectively implemented, but when there is no treaty there is still solidarity from women."