Femicides are crimes, not 'a shame,' Turkish women tell Soylu

Turkey's non-governmental women's organization Women's Assemblies slammed Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu's remarks that femicides are a shame, and noted that killing women is a crime. Meanwhile, the minister recommended that men hit themselves instead of women.

Women hold signs that read "Enforce Istanbul Convention" and "We don't want to die" during protests against withdrawing from the international document in July.

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Non-governmental women's organization Women's Assemblies (Kadın Meclisleri) slammed Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu's Nov. 23 remarks that femicides are "shameful," and noted that women's murders were in fact a crime. 

Titled "Minister Soylu should do his job instead of shaming men," the statement started off with a reminder that Soylu is in fact the minister of the state body that's responsible for securing women's lives. 

"You're responsible for creating legal decrees and enforcing the law, not shaming men," the statement told Soylu. 

Minister Soylu only started using the word "femicide" a year ago, the NGO said, even though there has been an active social movement in Turkey against women's murders for the past decade. 

"Now you ask 'where did these femicides come from?' We've been fighting to prevent them for years, let's answer again: You reconciled women who sought your help with their assailants and sent them home with them. You failed to provide women with protective orders. You failed to protect women who had legal protection."

Addressed to the minister himself, the statement goes on to note that the Interior Ministry failed to sanction officials who failed to enforce bill number 6284, the Turkish "Law on Protecting the Family and Preventing Violence Against Women."

Legal protection for women has increasingly weakened in Turkey in recent years, as the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been debating withdrawing from Istanbul Convention, officially the "Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence."

Turkey was the first signatory on the international document back in 2011, and the convention has been the primary legal document providing protection against domestic violence in Turkey. 

The AKP's indications of withdrawing from the convention sparked nationwide protests in July, as some officials' remarks coincided with yet another femicide, the brutal murder of 27-year-old Pınar Gültekin.

Women's Assemblies also slammed the government's intentions surrounding Istanbul Convention, and the Interior Ministry's failure to share data about femicides with the public.

"You failed to gather evidence surrounding suspicious women's deaths. You did nothing following femicides except offer your condolences."

Lastly, the statement noted that the Interior Ministry often antagonized women who fought to stop femicides, as many women's rights activists in Turkey are faced with prosecution for their protest.

"The ministers responsible for protecting women should abandon their posts if they fail to do their jobs. We will continue our fight to stop femicides until not a single woman is killed anymore."

Soylu: Hit yourselves instead of women

Speaking at a teacher's event on Nov. 24, Minister Soylu further elaborated on his strategy on preventing violence against women by suggesting that men should hit themselves instead of hitting women. 

"Our society has the capacity for self-control. The concept of family is crucial. Hit yourself instead of hitting a woman," Soylu said. 

The minister also attacked women's protests by saying that the issue of femicides "isn't resolved by writing down two slogans on a sign."

"Their goal is to divert the issue from its focus, to divert from the heart of the issue," Soylu said of women's organizations. "Everyone should make an effort. We want to see everyone united on this issue."

The minister also said that the AKP government displayed "sincere efforts" in preventing femicides in Turkey, and pointed to bill 2012 as proof of their work. 

"It's a crucial step towards something that never existed in Turkey before, I think it's a millennium in the fight to stop violence against women."

Turkey's We Will Stop Femicides Platform reported 21 femicides in October, along with eight suspicious women's deaths during the month. Considering that many cases of femicide or violence against women are not reported, it's a safe assumption that a woman is killed by male violence each day in Turkey.