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Turkey: Prominent anti-femicide campaign group threatened with closure

Lawsuit opened to shut down We Will Stop Femicide Platform for 'acting against the law and morality'
Members of We Will Stop Femicides Platform hold placards reading 'stop femicide' and 'We will enforce the Istanbul convention', during a protest for a better implementation of the Istanbul Convention and the Turkish Law 6284 for protection of the family and prevention of violence against women (AFP)
Members of the We Will Stop Femicide Platform call for an end to violence against women in Ankara on 22 November 2020 (AFP)

A legal case has been opened by a court to close down one of Turkey's leading feminist organisations, which has campaigned for years against the murder of women in the country.

In a statement on Wednesday, the We Will Stop Femicide Platform said that the lawsuit, which was filed by the Istanbul Public Prosecutor's Office, accuses the organisation of "acting against the law and morality".

Since its founding in 2010, the organisation has campaigned against what it sees as an epidemic of violence against women in Turkey. The group has, in recent years, been heavily involved in bringing a number of murders, suspicious killings and disappearances of women to both national and international attention.

It has also collated annual data on the killing of women, revealing hundreds of murders per year. In its latest report, the group said there had been 24 murders of women in Turkey in March 2022.

"We know that we will never walk alone in the face of these attacks against our just struggle," read the statement. "Especially our members, our friends; we call on all women, LGBTIQ+s and all the responsive public who support women's struggle to embrace our struggle against this annulment lawsuit filed against us."

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'We will never walk alone'

We Will Stop Femicide Platform said the lawsuit was based on various complaints against the group, including accusations that it had "disintegrated the family structure by ignoring the concept of family", which the court said had created a "strong suspicion" of criminal activity.

There has been widespread anger in Turkey since July 2021, when - in the middle of a highly publicised wave of violent female deaths - the government withdrew Turkey from the 2011 Istanbul Convention on the prevention of violence against women.

Turkey formally quits European treaty to prevent violence against women
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Despite having been the first country to ratify the convention, in March 2012, Ankara said that it would withdraw over articles that "normalise homosexuality" - even though rights groups warned that the withdrawal gave a green light to misogynists.

Following the announcement of the lawsuit, a number of celebrities and politicians rallied to the We Will Stop Femicide Platform's support on social media.

"I stand by the We Will Stop Femicide Platform, which is targeted by the masculine order with unlawful and empty lawsuits!" tweeted Selin Sayek-Boke, an MP with the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). "We will not lose one more person, we will never walk alone and we will stop femicide!"

Author Elif Shafak also rallied to the group's defence, describing it as "very valuable".

"There are brave people in this country who are trying so hard so that more women are not killed and those who perpetrate violence against women go unpunished," she tweeted.

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