Updated: Sat, 05/29/2021 - 03:00

Mersin Women’s Platform was formed in 1996 to stop violence against women and work towards attaining gender equality. Through fines, 28 constituents of the Platform are being pressured into giving up the struggle. The Platform has been holding a Watch for Istanbul Convention since March 20, 2021- the date when Turkish State withdrew from the Convention with a presidential decree. The fines for holding the Convention Watch have already exceeded 120 thousand TL. 

The women’s struggle that started in metropolis in the 90s, spread all around in Turkey in waves. This period was marked by “Scream, Let Everyone Hear”, “purple pin” protests organized by feminists out on the streets to bring visibility to violence against women, and to have legislative regulations in place. As the struggle gained momentum, it found resonance in Mersin where Mersin Women’s Platform started to gather its first meetings in 1996 following the appeal of Independent Women Association to women active in political parties, unions, and civil society organizations and independent activists. 

The first March 8 event in Mersin was held the same year the Platform was founded. The meeting brought together hundreds of women and voiced their demands on the streets. Since then, the Platform continues to implement its activities and to grow despite all the intimidation and restriction campaigns against them. 

Today, the Platform has 28 constituents which work together with women’s commissions/assemblies of unions and chambers active in Mersin, representatives of women’s assemblies of political parties, women’s associations, democratic mass organizations, women active in civil society organizations, independent feminists and LGBTI+ activists. The Platform has been cooperating with local governance and public institutions to stop violence against women and work towards attaining gender equality for the past 25 years. 

They are conducting initiatives for empowering women in education, culture, and arts. In time, they’ve added legal information/awareness raising sessions, case monitoring and awareness raising into their activities. The “free theme” discussions they hold is a platform through which every woman participating can bring their issue to the floor and a methodology they try to highlight in their activities. 

The Platform also organizes forums to create a uniform demand around women’s rights, lives, and struggle. Through their communication with municipalities, their work around the Istanbul Convention, especially regarding foundation of women’s shelters and consultation centers, continues. Mersin is one of the four cities in Turkey where the Feminist Night March annually takes place. 

Since the launch of the campaign for “Urgent Action Against Femicide” in 2019, the Platform has been continuously receiving fines. Since the beginning of 2020, the Platform was fined:

  • 960 TL on July 21 for 5 women in violation of the Misdemeanor Law while protesting the killing of Pınar Gültekin,
  • 3 thousand 150 TL on August 5 for 12 women in violation the Law No. 1593 on Public Health while protesting Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, 
  • 392 TL (each) on August 18 for 6 women organizing or attending an unauthorized press conference,
  • 3 thousand 469 TL on March 20 for 6 women in violation of Law No. 1593,
  • On March 27 for 12 people in violation of Law No. 1593. 

Mersin Women’s Platform has been addressing these acts of intimidation through solidarity. A Case Monitoring Group established by volunteer attorneys-at-law has been providing legal support, while there is a solidarity network for Platform members who are placed in an economically difficult situation during the appeal process against these fines. Only one of the fines from the summer of 2020 is annulled until now. The one thousand 150 TL fine for violating the Public Health Law was reduced to 789 TL. All fines were brought before the Constitutional Court. 

Platform has been holding a Watch for Istanbul Convention since March 20, 2021- the date when Turkish State withdrew from the Convention with a presidential decree. The fines for holding the Convention Watch have already exceeded 120 thousand TL.