Mersin women fined 100,000 liras for protesting Istanbul Convention withdrawal plan in 2020

Some 20 women in southern Turkey's Mersin province were fined more than 100,000 Turkish Liras for protesting Ankara's debate to withdraw from Istanbul Convention over the summer of 2020. Meanwhile, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said that femicides had decreased by 26 percent since Turkey's withdrawal from the international treaty in March.

Burcu Özkaya Günaydın / DUVAR - Duvar English

A group of 20 women were fined more than 100,000 Turkish Liras within the framework of the Public Health Code for protesting the government's plans to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention over the summer of 2020. 

Mersin Women's Platform member Çiğdem Serin said that police have been blocking their press statements since August, adding that the latest fines were issued to 16 women on March 27.

Serin noted that the government has been duplicitous in its permission of mass gatherings, as the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) held mass congresses across the country during the first few months of 2021.

"It's okay to hold congresses, but it's a problem for women to go out on the street and defend the right to life," Serin said. 

The Mersin Women's Platform holds press statements in favor of the Istanbul Convention every Wednesday, Serin said, adding that they will continue to do so despite the government's discouraging measures. 

"We will never give up on our lives, or on each other," Serin said. 

Mersin was among dozens of provinces where widespread protests were held over the summer of 2020 in condemnation of the brutal murder of a young woman named Pınar Gültekin, and the government's simultaneous plans to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty protecting women's rights. 

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan eventually withdrew Turkey from the document in March of 2021, prompting international outrage over the government's reluctance to prosecute violence against women. 

Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu boasted on April 22 that the number of women who were murdered had decreased since the state's withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, and said that 26 percent fewer women had "lost their lives" in this period.

Soylu also said that anyone who said Turkish law enforcement was ineffective in combatting violence against women was a liar.

Turkey's We Will Stop Femicides Platform reported 28 femicides in March, along with 19 suspicious deaths of women.