Some 35 women are standing trial on charges of violating the Law on Demonstrations over their attendance to the Feminist Night March on March 8, 2020 to mark the International Women's Day.
The trial continued at the Istanbul 58th Criminal Court of First Instance on Dec. 30, with the judge addressing a shocking question to one of the defendants, ANKA news agency reported.
Undermining the importance of Turkey's femicide problem, the judge said: “Men also are being killed. There are those who say, 'If 10 women are being killed, 20 men are killed.' Should we also gather [to protest]?”
The defendants are accused of not “dispersing on their free will despite warnings, resisting to the police not to have their duties fulfilled, and damaging the public property” on the night of March 8, 2020 in Istanbul's Beyoğlu district.
The defendants said that they had used their constitutional right during the protest and that they had been unlawfully detained by the police through torture.
In response to the judge's comments, defendant Emel Karadeniz said that men also have the right to “use their constitutional right.” “I will ask the state official who says, 'Men are also being killed' when we say 'Women are being killed' today: What is the state's job?” Karadeniz said.
The hearing was attended by seven defendants and their lawyers. The court ordered another three defendants to be present at the next hearing and adjourned the trial to April 28, 2022.
Femicides have reached record levels in the past decade. In 2008, the first year that the We Will Stop Femicides Platform began tracking femicides, there were at least 66 women murdered by men in Turkey. Last year, according to the Platform, that number was 410. This year, the number currently stands at 401.
Despite this, Turkey has made moves in recent years to lessen protections for women. In July 2021, Turkey formally withdrew from the Istanbul Convention (the Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence), a move that advocacy groups say was a major setback for women in the country. Many of those that perpetuate gender-based violence or killing are also let off with light sentences or even allowed to kill again.