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Hundreds demonstrate in Turkey as groups fight for women’s rights in court

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Hundreds of people rallied outside Turkey’s highest administrative court on Tuesday as it examines a case hoping to overturn the country’s withdrawal from an international treaty protecting women’s rights, Agence France-Presse reported.

Feminist groups, human rights campaigners and representatives of bar associations across Turkey again called for the withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention to be scrapped.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pulled Turkey out of the convention last year. Social conservatives in the country claim it promotes homosexuality and threatens traditional family values.

There have been many legal attempts to cancel the withdrawal, and groups including political parties and NGOs have taken the case to Ankara’s Council of State.

Outside, demonstrators shouted: “We don’t give up because we are right!” and “The Istanbul Convention gives life to women!” as they paraded purple banners, the color of the feminist movement in Turkey.

“Turkey’s withdrawal from the convention is contrary to basic human rights and democracy. We are telling the Council of State this today,” said Yelda Koçak, a lawyer and member of the Women’s Platform for Equality group.

The Istanbul Convention requires countries to set up laws aimed at preventing and prosecuting violence against women.

Campaigners believe the withdrawal has left women in Turkey more vulnerable to violence.

The We Will Stop Femicide Platform said 166 women have been killed in Turkey so far this year, the majority by family members. There were 423 such killings last year.

The Council of State hearing was still underway as of Tuesday afternoon.

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