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Thousands protest against possible withdrawal from İstanbul Convention

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Thousands of women in Turkey took to the streets late on Wednesday to demand that the government not withdraw from a landmark treaty on preventing domestic violence, AFP reported.

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 İstanbul 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 İstanbul 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 women’s solidarity, we will prevent the withdrawal,” Benazir Coşkun, 31, told AFP in İstanbul.

In the Aegean region of Izmir, police intervened to stop a 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 — often leaving women vulnerable to violence 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 President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s family, with one association whose deputy chair is his daughter Sümeyye supporting the treaty, while an organization linked to his son Bilal has come out against the convention.

The “We Will Stop Femicide Platform” says 146 women in Turkey 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.

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