Ankara, women protest

33 women arrested during a feminist protest in Turkey

Women’s rights groups demanded in the protest that the government must not withdraw from the Istanbul Convention.

At least 33 women activists were arrested on Wednesday during a feminist protest in Turkey’s capital Ankara, in which protesters called on the government not to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention against Gender-Based Violence.

Some 70 activists gathered in Ankara‘s central Çankaya district convened by the Ankara Women’s Platform for a protest under the slogan “The Istanbul Convention saves lives”. The police, however, intervened, warning the protesters that they could not occupy the street illegally and that they should carry out the protest in Kurtuluş Park, as they had been authorised.

Finally, the police officers decided to interrupt the march when the activists refused to go to the agreed place and insisted on continuing through the city centre. According to security sources, 33 of them were detained for resisting the authorities, being released hours later after giving a statement at the police station.

Feminist and women’s rights groups have long denounced the insistent rumors about a possible withdrawal of Turkey from the European Convention against Gender Violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention because it was in this Turkish city where it was agreed: it is the first treaty of its kind in the world to combat violence against women.

Several countries, including Turkey, could abandon the agreement

Paradoxically, Turkey, as the host country, was the first country to ratify it in 2011; however, recently voices within the government and also from some parties such as the MHP -an ally of the AKP party- have expressed their disagreement with some clauses of the agreement that, in their opinion, contradict the values ​​of Turkish society and are used by LGBT groups to impose their criteria.

Several European countries such as Hungary or Slovakia have also expressed their rejection for similar reasons, and Poland has already expressed its intention to abandon the agreement for the same reasons. The Council of Europe defends the treaty by assuring that its “sole objective” is to combat gender-based violence, and warning that abandoning the agreement would be a great step backwards to curb violence against women in Europe.