Hundreds of people gathered on Tuesday June 14 outside the Council of State in Ankara (Turkey), which was debating Turkey’s withdrawal from an international treaty protecting women’s rights.

Representatives of bars in different cities of the country, many feminist associations and other human rights defenders have once again demanded the cancellation of Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, decided by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2021. “We are not giving up because we are right!”, “The Istanbul Convention brings women to life!” shouted protesters waving purple banners, the color of the feminist movement in Turkey.

In Turkey, many groups, including political parties and human rights NGOs, have appealed to the Council of State asking for the cancellation of the decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, which establishes a legal and institutional framework to fight against sexist violence. The Turkish government had justified its decision to abandon the treaty by accusing it of encouraging homosexuality and threatening the traditional family structure.

“Turkey’s withdrawal from this convention is contrary to fundamental human rights and democracy. We are saying this to the Council of State in Turkey today,” said Yelda Kocak, lawyer, member of the Women’s Platform for Equality. “For weeks, all layers of society have been telling us why it is urgent to return to the Convention. Today, we will try to explain what the Convention means to us before the Council of State,” said Banu Tuna, president of the Istanbul branch of the Journalists’ Union of Turkey.

Women’s rights advocates believe that Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention has made Turkish women more vulnerable to violence against them. According to the “We Will Stop Femicide” platform, 166 women have been killed since the beginning of this year in Turkey, the majority of them by family members. The count of victims of feminicides last year amounted to 423. At the Council of State in Turkey, the hearing was still in progress on Tuesday afternoon.