Turkey’s exit from Istanbul Convention protecting women draws criticism from activists and Western allies

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Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention has drawn widespread condemnation from around the world and sparked nationwide protests in a country where domestic violence is rife, with at least 300 feminicides and 189 suspicious deaths of women registered so far in 2021

Turkey formally withdrew on Thursday from a landmark international treaty protecting women from violence, and signed in its own city of Istanbul, although President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted it would not be not a step back for women. PA

Turkey’s official exit from the Istanbul Convention, a landmark international treaty negotiated in 2011 to prevent and prosecute violence against women, has come under heavy criticism from various sides, although President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted that it would not be a “step backwards” to end the violence-based gender.

It comes after Erdogan ended the country’s participation in the convention with an overnight surprise decree on March 21 this year, sparking condemnation from women’s rights groups and Western countries.

A legal appeal to stop the withdrawal was dismissed this week.

“We will not be silenced, we will not be afraid, we will not bow down,” chanted women among a crowd of several hundred people gathered in the capital Ankara. “We are not abandoning the Istanbul Convention,” read a banner.

Similar protests took place in other Turkish cities as a call against the withdrawal of opposition parties was rejected by the State Council on Tuesday. Protesters clashed with police firing tear gas in Istanbul.

What is the Istanbul Convention? The Istanbul Convention, a human rights treaty established by the Council of Europe, with the aim of preventing and prosecuting all forms of violence against women, promoting gender equality and ensure the protection and rehabilitation of women victims of violence.

  • The law was signed by 45 countries and the European Union in May 2011. From the European Union, 34 countries have signed this treaty.
  • Turkey was the first country to sign the Council of Europe treaty at a summit in Istanbul, and it was the first to withdraw 10 years later.
  • In March 2012, he incorporated the Istanbul Convention into domestic law.

Why did Turkey withdraw from the treaty protecting women? Erdogan on Thursday announced his “Action Plan to Combat Violence Against Women,” which includes goals such as reviewing court processes, improving protection services and collecting data on violence. .

“Some groups are trying to present our official withdrawal from the Istanbul convention on July 1 as a step backwards,” he said. “Just as our fight against violence against women did not start with the Istanbul Convention, it will not end with our withdrawal.

Even though the official journal did not include the reason for Turkey’s withdrawal, some officials of Erdogan’s Nationalist Party claimed that the convention demeaned the traditional family structure, encouraged divorces and encouraged acceptance of LGBTQ in society.

  • In March, the Turkish Presidency’s Communications Directorate issued a statement saying the Istanbul Convention had been “hijacked” by those “trying to normalize homosexuality – which is incompatible with the social and family values ​​of the country. Turkey “.
  • Erdogan emphasized on Thursday traditional values ​​of family and gender, saying that the fight against violence against women is also a fight to “protect the rights and honor of our mothers, wives, girls “.

How big is the problem of gender-based violence in Turkey? Turkey’s withdrawal has drawn widespread condemnation from around the world and sparked nationwide protests in a country where domestic violence is rife, with at least 300 femicides and 189 suspicious female deaths recorded so far this year by an advocacy group. We are going to stop the feminicide platform.

  • Turkey ranks 133rd out of 156 countries in the Global Gender Gap 2021 report. According to UN data on women, 38% of women in Turkey experience partner violence in their lifetime.

“The withdrawal sends a reckless and dangerous message to the perpetrators of violence, mutilation and murder: that they can continue to do so with impunity,” said Amnesty International Secretary General Agnès Callamard.

Before the withdrawal, women’s organizations urged Ankara to apply the treaty to protect women.

“We fought to get the convention implemented. They think they can get out of the convention with one man’s word. But women won’t give up,” said Ipek Deniz, 35. AFP in Istanbul.

Critics say the pride march bans and withdrawal from the treaty demonstrate “creeping Islamization” under Erdogan, who came to power as prime minister in 2003.

Response from the international community, other organizations

Women, LGBT groups and others protested against the decision. They claim that the convention’s pillars of prevention, protection, prosecution and policy coordination, as well as its identification of gender-based violence, are crucial to protect women in Turkey.

  • The UN, in a joint statement, said that “Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention would undermine the significant efforts made so far to prevent and combat violence against women and could hinder progress. towards an increased strengthening of national legislative, political and institutional frameworks “.
  • Istanbul governorate banned a pride march last weekend, in which police used force to arrest dozens of protesters. Amnesty International activist in Turkey, Milena Buyum, tweeted after the protest after police closed the avenue with barricades: “The irony of hundreds of women and LGBTI + rights defenders blocked by large numbers of predominantly male police officers is not lost.
  • Three opposition parties also withdrew from a parliamentary committee on Thursday to protest the decision. “We will continue our struggle,” Canan Gullu, president of the Federation of Turkish Women’s Associations, said on Wednesday. “Turkey is shooting itself in the foot with this decision.”
  • She said that since March, women and other vulnerable groups have been more reluctant to seek help and less likely to receive it, with COVID-19[female[feminine – fueled by economic difficulties causing a dramatic increase in violence against them.
  • US President Biden called the move “disappointing” and a “discouraging” step back in the fight to end violence against women. US State Department spokesman Ned Price tweeted that Turkey’s withdrawal was “deeply disappointing and a step backwards for the international effort to end violence against women.” .
  • Considering that, according to the German Foreign Ministry, “Neither cultural, religious, nor other national traditions can be used as an excuse to ignore violence against women”.

With contributions from agencies


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