Turkey pulls out of treaty protecting women from violence

Turkey pulls out of treaty protecting women from violence

Last week was particularly tumultuous and anxious for women in Turkey.

On 19th March 2021, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a decree annulling Turkey’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention on violence against women, leading to widespread anger among Turkish women. Demonstrations were planned, and protests at different Turkish cities were carried out. Slogans such as “Istanbul Convention saves lives” and “We don’t accept one man’s decision” were raised.

Turkey has pulled out of the world’s first binding treaty to prevent and combat violence against women. The Istanbul Convention is a legally-binding Council of Europe treaty, covering domestic violence and seeking to end legal impunity for perpetrators. It covers 34 European countries and took effect in 2014.

Women’s rights activists, lawyers and opposition politicians have denounced Mr Erdogan’s decree, insisting he cannot legally take Turkey out of an international convention ratified by parliament.

The 2011 Istanbul Convention requires governments to adopt a legislation prosecuting domestic violence and similar abuse as well as marital rape and female genital mutilation.

Gokce Gokcen, deputy chairman of the CHP responsible for human rights, tweeted that abandoning the treaty meant “keeping women second class citizens and letting them be killed.”

According to Turkey’s We Will Stop Femicide Platform, at least 300 women were murdered in 2020, mostly by their partners, and 171 more women were found dead under suspicious circumstances.

This move further endanger the life of women who are killed and abused in the country.

President Erdogan’s spokesperson, Fahrettin Altun, has argued that the Istanbul Convention’s original intention of promoting women’s rights had been “hijacked by a group of people attempting to normalise homosexuality” and that it was incompatible with Turkey’s social and family values.

They find it especially problematic that signatories have to protect victims from discrimination regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Their worry is that this single clause may lead to gay marriage, reports BBC.

The Islamist-rooted AK Party has more than often voiced anti-LGBT+ sentiments. The tweet from Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu calling LGBT+ individuals “perverted” – was in line with the Party’s stereotypes.

Women now expect the judiciary and police to be instrumental in cracking down on violence against them and LGBT+ people.


Featured image: Getty Images/BBC

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