Turkey’s anti-femicide group expands goals to new fields

Filiz Pehlivan

Mechanical Engineer

“Breach of fundamental rights and freedoms one after another oblige us to take further steps,” says Gülsüm Kav of the We Will Stop Femicide Platform.

The We Will Stop Femicide Platform has decided to transform the women’s struggle, symbolized by the motto “You Will Never Walk Alone” used by many rights groups over the years, into a larger-scale movement.

Concerns regarding the future and society as a whole are behind this decision. According to the platform, Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention with a midnight decree contrary to Article 90 of the Constitution was not an issue limited to women’s rights. It was evidence of unlawful practices spreading in other matters.

The platform has carried out very successful activities to stop femicide and protect women from violence in Turkey. Thanks to the awareness they have raised we learned that 154 women who were victims of violence in the first four months of 2021, 409 others in 2020, 421 in 2019, 404 in 2018, and 3116 in the last 10 years would be alive if necessary precautions were taken. They have shown that these are not just statistics; each victim has a story.

With the awareness that women’s struggle to reach equal rights is not independent of many other rights issues, the platform’s components now intend to launch a new movement to set a higher bar.

The platform’s general representative, Gülsüm Kav, explained the current situation with an allegory, “skating on ice”.

“Breach of fundamental rights and freedoms one after another oblige us to take further steps,” she said in a May 18 press briefing.

“The attacks on all modern rights are increasing, but on the other hand, the youth, the villagers, farmers, workers, and all segments of society raise objections despite a fear atmosphere across the country indicate that these rights are known and embraced by the people,” she said, pointing to the recent protests in the İkizdere district in the Black Sea province of Rize against the construction of a stone quarry that destroys the nature.

In such an environment, the platform components agreed that the response to the breach of rights should be given not only for women but the welfare of the whole society with all segments of society who face violations and struggle for their rights. While doing this, they think it is necessary to come together with all segments of the society to direct these movements to common goals. To reach a tangible result, they aim to use the experiences they have gained in the women’s movement to “steer social opposition” and carry the struggle to a greater extend.

Target-oriented organization

Their two main arguments are:

– Our fundamental rights and freedoms are violated, but we also have a very strong legal basis and the strength to defend them vigorously.

– In this period, while the society was in such a struggle to seek rights, we could not be contented with the struggle for only women and the Istanbul Convention, we want to give the whole society a hand in its seek for rights and try to lead it to the results that we can achieve.

They are establishing Women Councils. The formation of Women’s Councils in 70 provinces has been completed, and they have members in 11 others. In the meantime, they are in cooperation with the Workers’ Women’s Councils, University Women’s Councils, and High School Women’s Councils. Efforts continue to establish councils in six countries, including Germany, England, France, the Netherlands, the U.S., and Italy. It also aims to increase its international influence because this organization’s goals are not limited to the struggle for women’s rights but it sets a model that demands equality and freedom all around the world.

At the Turkey Women’s Council meeting attended by 750 members on May 16; together with women and LGBTIQ + community, to say “You will never walk alone” to those who seek their rights in society despite all the lawlessness: They accepted the slogan “Abide by the Constitution, the Law, the Convention” and decided to put the struggle based on this motto into practice.

Action plan for legal struggle

Simultaneous actions are planned wherever they are organized.

Although it is not sufficient, they will insist on talking about the Constitution, even tough it is violated.

They will use all available legal remedies against unlawful circulars.

They want to be companionship in the struggle of all segments of the society whose fundamental rights are violated.

They will produce content to share the unlawfulness and struggles experienced with the international public.

They also express that they will develop methods to come together with other social categories and stand together against lawlessness and they are ready for any suggestion on this matter.

In essence, their claims are great and they believe they will repel the attacks by saying “Abide by the Constitution, the Law, the Convention.”

While the issue of femicides remains as the biggest problem of Turkey, We Will Stop Femicide Platform is not hesitating to expand their field of action, a confidence that can be attributed to their experience as well as potential of the young volunteers who will pass this experience to future generations.

In the upcoming period, it seems that we will witness a nationwide organized women’s struggle in combating all inequalities and oppression, as well as femicide and violence, and this means that hope is growing.

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