ISTANBUL – Turkey to quit the Istanbul Convention to Prevent Violence Against Women on July 1 following a decision by the Nation’s State Council on Tuesday of reject appeals seeking to reverse the movement.
The official withdrawal would come after months of protests by women’s rights defenders and opposition from international bodies, including the Council of Europe the US administration, who claim that leaving the convention could deprive women, children and the LGBT community in Turkey of the legal framework to prevent gender-based violence and prosecute perpetrators.
A presidential decree of March 20 announced Turkey’s withdrawal from the EU treaty, making Turkey the first of the 47 signatory states to withdraw from the convention. In response, a number of rights organizations and the country’s main opposition parties have taken legal action to quash the ruling.
On Tuesday, the nation’s State Council voted three to two to reject the appeals and the Turkish presidency presented his defense request that all relevant proceedings relating to the withdrawal be dismissed.
The move paves the way for Turkey’s withdrawal from the convention on Thursday despite continued opposition from the women’s rights group which plans to hold large protests in Turkish cities on the same day.
According to the We Will Stop Femicide platform, at least 189 women were killed incidents of gender-based violence so far this year in Turkey, and at least 409 women have died in similar circumstances in 2020.
“This is a huge step backwards and it comes at a time when so many women are being killed,” Deniz Yuksel, Turkey advocacy specialist for Amnesty International, told Al-Monitor.
Yuksel said the convention prompted the Turkish parliament to pass laws supporting protection and prevention mechanisms against gender-based violence, but some legal frameworks were never properly implemented after Turkey became the first signatory. of the treaty in 2011.
â€œThe government considers that the fact that gender-based violence has increased over the past decade means that the Istanbul Convention has failed, but that is really not true,â€ Yuksel told Al-Monitor. “The reality isâ€¦ Turkey has not implemented the convention.”
In addition to an increase in reported incidents of gender-based violence in recent years, the Turkish government has asserted that the convention’s measures to combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation work against traditional conservative norms.
The communications directorate of the Turkish presidency argued in a March 21 statement part of the decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention was that it had been “hijacked by a group of people trying to normalize homosexuality, which is incompatible with social and family values”.
In an apparent effort to replace the treaty, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to unveil a national action plan targeting violence against women at an event in Ankara on Thursday. The plan was reportedly drafted by the Department of Family and Social Services and will outline measures to be implemented over the next five years.
The developments come as reports of gender-based violence and child abuse circulated widely on social media and in national news this week. Monitoring video footage of a man savagely attacking a woman in a cafe in the Turkish Aegean district of Soma reflected the pervasive threat of violence faced by women.
Separately, an uproar gripped Turkish social media on Tuesday after reports surfaced of a court ruling earlier this year that released a couple awaiting sentencing who were accused of physically and sexually abusing their children as well as selling them to friends for sex.
Following public outcry, the Council of Judges and Prosecutors of Turkey launched an investigation in the trial, which is taking place in the province of Antalya, in southern Turkey. presidential spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin also condemned the news in a tweet on Tuesday.
â€œIn this terrible event, it is essential to avoid decisions that may be perceived as condoning child abuse,â€ Kain said, adding, â€œThese horrible people should be given the harshest sentence. We will monitor the legal process for justice. “
Preventing and prosecuting such cases are among the main goals of the Istanbul Convention, Yuksel said, arguing that the treaty has been targeted by the Turkish government for political purposes. In addition to police interventions during LGBT pride marches in Turkish cities This week, Yuksel said Erdogan was trying to appeal to conservative voters with the convention’s withdrawal as his support waned ahead of the elections currently scheduled for 2023.
â€œThe ruling party, due to the economic circumstances in particular, feels politically vulnerable and feels it needs all the support it can get … even at the expense of security and women’s rights. Yuksel told Al-Monitor.