A total of 136 women were murdered by men in Turkey in the first six months of this year, while 114 died under suspicious circumstances, the Stockholm Center for Freedom reported, citing the Birgün daily.
Although femicides took place mainly in big cities such as Istanbul and Ankara, there was an increase in domestic violence cases across the country. Women’s rights activists also criticized authorities for failing to conduct thorough investigations into suspicious deaths.
According to Gizem Gül Kürekçi from the Left Feminist Movement, there is a clear link between the increase in femicide cases and the government’s paternalistic rhetoric.
“Before the May 14 elections, the Justice, and Development Party [AKP] government aligned with political parties that are openly sexist and that have demanded the repeal of laws that protect women. I believe such political developments are directly linked to the worrying increase in femicide we have witnessed in the last six months,” Kürekçi said.
During the recent presidential election, the People’s Alliance led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan aligned with the New Welfare Party (YRP), a small political party chaired by Fatih Erbakan. The YRP’s condition for joining the alliance was the repeal of Law No. 6284 for protection of the family and the prevention of violence against women.
The Turkish government agreed to consider repealing the law, sparking outrage among activists across the country, who said it was the only legal measure against gender-based violence.
“If we [activists] do not take action, femicide numbers will only increase and the perpetrators will walk free. Suspicious deaths of women will be classified as suicides, and the cases will be closed without thorough investigation,” Kürekçi said.
She added that the perpetrators of gender-based violence and femicide were granted impunity by the judiciary.
Femicides and violence against women are serious problems in Turkey, where women are killed, raped or beaten almost every day. Many critics say the main reason behind the situation is the policies of the AKP government, which protects violent and abusive men by granting them impunity.
According to the We Will Stop Femicide Platform, 392 women were murdered in Turkey in 2022.
In a move that attracted national and international outrage, Erdoğan through a presidential decree pulled the country out of an international treaty in March 2021 that requires governments to adopt legislation prosecuting perpetrators of domestic violence and similar abuse as well as marital rape and female genital mutilation.
The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention, is an international accord designed to protect women’s rights and prevent domestic violence in societies and was opened to signature of member countries of the Council of Europe in 2011.
Since Turkey’s withdrawal from the treaty, Turkish authorities have been pressuring women’s rights organizations over their activist work.
Despite the pressure, organizations have said they will continue monitoring violence and femicide in the country.