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Law on protecting women at stake in Turkey as parties seek election alliances

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Women’s rights activists in Turkey have criticized a small party for demanding the repeal of a law for the prevention of violence against women as a condition for joining President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s political alliance, the Gazete Duvar news website reported on Tuesday.

As Turkey is only two months away from elections slated for May 14, the New Welfare Party (YRP) is discussing terms for joining the People’s Alliance led by Erdoğan, and one of its demands is that the president repeal Law No. 6284 for protection of the family and the prevention of violence against women.

YRP Chairman Fatih Erbakan is the son of the late former prime minister Necmettin Erbakan, a leading figure of Turkey’s Islamist movement who had formed the Welfare Party (RP) in 1983. Erdoğan started his political career in the RP but in 2002 decided to part ways with Erbakan and the “conventional” Islamist movement and established the Justice and Development Party (AKP) along with former president Abdullah Gül.

Canan Güllü from the Turkish Federation of Women’s Organizations (TKDF) on Tuesday told Gazete Duvar that the YRP’s making women’s rights a bargaining chip to join the People’s Alliance was both “annoying” and “incompatible with political ethics.”

Lawyer Şükran Eroğlu said Law No 6284 benefits not only women but also families, children and victims of stalking.

“Therefore, it actually protects the [whole] society against violence. Repealing this law would mean that the state legitimizes violence. … Let alone lifting the law, there should be a return to the İstanbul Convention,” Eroğlu added.

The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence is an international accord designed to protect women’s rights and prevent domestic violence in societies and was opened to the signature of member countries of the council in 2011.

Despite opposition from the international community and women’s rights groups, Erdoğan issued a decree in March 2021 that pulled the country out of the international treaty. Turkey officially withdrew from the convention on July 1, 2021.

“Law No. 6284 includes a series of measures to protect women from physical, psychological, sexual and economic violence. Repealing this law would encourage women’s exposure to violence and its normalization,” lawyer Hande Gündoğdu from the Women and Children First Association told Gazete Duvar.

Esin İzel Uysal from the We Will Stop Femicide Platform said they would vote out enemies of women and LGBTI+ people in Turkey, referring to Erdoğan and his ruling AKP, in the upcoming elections, “despite all election agreements.”

Femicides and violence against women are serious problems in Turkey, where women are killed, raped or beaten every day. Critics say the main reason behind the situation is the policies of the AKP government, which protects violent and abusive men by affording them impunity.

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