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Turkey becoming ‘slaughterhouse for women’ as femicides continue to rise

AS ITS government faces growing criticism over plans to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, Turkey has been accused of becoming “a slaughterhouse for women,” with at least 36 femicides reported last month.

The We Will Stop Femicide Platform (KCDP) documented at least 36 murders of women in July, a rise from 26 reported in June, with 11 more found dead “in suspicious circumstances.”

According to the group’s report, which draws on police statistics and press reports, 92 per cent of the victims were killed by husbands, friends and former partners.

Thirteen were murdered because they wanted to leave or divorce men or wanted to make independent choices about their lives, while five were killed for “financial reasons.”

KCDP said that in 18 cases it had not been established why the women were murdered, which the group warned was “a consequence of the concealment of violence against women and femicide.”

Mass protests have taken place across the country, triggered by the killing of 27-year-old Kurdish student Pinar Gultekin last month. Her former partner has been arrested and charged with her murder.

Women’s organisations and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) have led demands for Turkey not to pull out of the Istanbul Convention, a 2011 Council of Europe treaty that obliges signatories to tackle gender-based crime, provide protection and services for women and ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted.

KCDP’s July report shows that at least 50 per cent of the victims were killed in their own homes and another 17 per cent on the street. Six women were killed by their fathers, sons or other male relatives.

Of those killed, 24 women were shot, five stabbed, three strangled, one beaten to death and another pushed out of a building.

“As long as it is not uncovered why and by whom women are murdered, perpetrators are not prosecuted and there are no deterrent penalties, prevention measures are not implemented, the extent of violence against women will continue to grow," KCDP said in a statement.

Turkey does not collate figures on femicide but, according to KCDP, at least 474 women were murdered in 2019. The researchers’ figures are considered to be a conservative total, with one Turkish commentator reporting to the Star that 59 women had actually been murdered in the last 10 days. “Turkey is becoming a slaughterhouse for women,” they said.

The ruling Justice & Development Party (AKP) is considering pulling out of the Istanbul Convention, with pressure being exerted by conservative and Islamist elements of society that believe the treaty undermines family values.

The government has been accused of waging “war on women” with structural discrimination at all levels of society.

In a bid to silence women, the HDP co-chair system, which guarantees sex equality in all structures of the party, has been banned as an act of “terrorism.”

Women’s organisations and individuals have been targeted by security services with at least 54 detained in raids last month.

It is estimated that 3,000 women have been murdered since the AKP came to power in 2002.

The Kurdistan Solidarity Campaign has launched a petition calling for an end to violence against women which can be signed here.

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