A Press Release of the World March of Women
Since the arrival of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to the Turkish government the women live a constant struggle against the restrictions imposed on their civil and political rights. Today, 22nd of November, women gathered in front of the parliament to denounce the AKP’s attempt to legalize child marriage by changing the current penal code that states that a man marrying a minor is automatically charged with rape and needs to be imprisoned. These changes are a major setback to the rights Turkish women managed to achieve and reinforces their persecution.
Since July Erdogan’s government has closed down 160 media outlets, including the women’s news agency JINHA and keeps 130 reporters under detention threats. On top of the attacks on the media outlets critical of the government’s policies, the government has also detained representatives of HDP (pro-Kurdish party) in 35 municipalities that were replaced by unelected government representatives.
During this month the government decreed the suspension of 370 non-governmental organizations that worked across 39 counties using the Emergency State status, persecuting and silencing the efforts from these organizations in denouncing the escalation of violence and repression from the Turkish state. In all of these actions women were the most affected and the feminist organizations targeted with constant persecution.
All of these arbitrary suspensions and violations of freedom are supported by European Governments that keep a close and cooperative relationship with Erdoğan that is inappropriate between democratic states and authoritarian states that do not respect people’s rights.
The information received today regarding the fact that the law that would legalize child marriage was being withdrawn was only possible due to the feminist mobilization in the country but feminists face further challenges as the withdrawal of the law was just a process to send it back to the commission for revision. The parliament is still gathered to discuss and vote on amendments to Article 103 of the penal code that will make it possible to drop the age of consent for sexual intercourse from the age of 15 to 12 years old, allowing in fact child marriage to happen as early as 12 years old. The government keeps its determination to allow the legalization of child abuse and to restrict women’s rights.
The World March of Women, mobilized in Turkey and Kurdistan and across Europe against what is happening, demands the Turkish Government to allow all Mayors democratically elected, today detained as Turkish state’s political prisoners, to return to their posts; to withdraw the law that allows the suspension of NGOs and their activity; and the complete cancellation of the law legalizing child marriage.
We also demand that European Governments stop any kind of diplomatic and trade relationships with the Turkish state until the Turkish government restores the rights of women and Kurdish and Turkish people. We also demand that European Union cease all the agreements in place with Turkey until all of these rights are restored.
In sisterhood, we will keep marching until we are all free!!!