The Turkish prosecutor’s office filed a lawsuit demanding the closure of a prominent anti-femicide NGO – a move being seen as a new attempt to undermine the women’s movement in the country.

Turkish Women’s Rights Group Faces Shutdown for ‘Immorality’

Women protest in Istanbul against Turkey’s decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, March 2021. Photo: EPA-EFE/ERDEM SAHIN

The prosecutor’s office filed a lawsuit on Wednesday, seeking to close down the We Will Stop Femicide Platform, Turkey’s leading women’s NGO, for allegedly “acting against the law and against morality”.

The NGO was established 12 years ago to protest against the murders of women in the country but has since become one of the most prominent social movements in Turkey and has organised several mass demonstrations due to the increasing number of femicides and the government’s inaction to protect women and end domestic violence.

The We Will Stop Femicide Platform said the suit against it was filed after various petitions of complaint against the NGO were sent to the prosecution.

“These petitions consist of written applications claiming our association has been ‘disintegrating the family structure by ignoring the concept of the family under the guise of defending women’s rights’, a claim not based on any concrete facts,” the NGO said in a written statement.

It added that the lawsuit also contains includes previous police investigations into the administrators of the NGO, which did not result in charges.

“While we are calling on the political authorities, prosecutors and courts to do their duty on behalf of women, they prefer to target those who are addressing the issue, with meaningless lawsuits,” it said.

Femicide and violence against women are major problems in Turkey. So far this year, at least 111 women have been killed by men; 419 women were killed by men in 2021 and 413 in 2020.

Turkey was the first country to ratify the Council of Europe’s Convention on Combating Violence Against Women, the so-called Istanbul Convention.

But Islamist and conservative critics claimed that it undermined traditional family values, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan withdrew the country from the treaty.

The We Will Stop Femicide Platform and its leader Gulsum Kav were at forefront of several nationwide demonstrations to urge the government rejoin the Istanbul Convention, but these calls were dismissed by the authorities.

Gulsum Kav is a medical doctor and human rights activist who has dedicated her life to protect women from gender-based violence and murder in Turkey. Kav was named as one of Balkan Insight’s Heroes of 2020: People Who Made a Difference.

On April 16, the We Will Stop Femicide Platform will hold a protest in Istanbul’s Kadikoy district against the closure lawsuit.

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