D.he Turkey has withdrawn from the so-called Istanbul Convention, which aims to prevent and combat violence against women. A corresponding decision by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was published in the Official Journal on Saturday night.
The international agreement was drawn up by the Council of Europe in 2011 and was intended to create a Europe-wide legal framework to prevent and combat violence against women. It obliges the signatories to prevent domestic violence, prosecute it and eradicate it and to promote equality. The Council of Europe is an organization that is independent of the EU.
Erdogan himself had signed the convention in Istanbul – the place of the final agreement – when he was still prime minister. It was later ratified in Turkey, but according to the organization “We will stop feminicide” it was never applied.
No reason yet
No reason was given for the exit, but officials from Erdogan’s ruling AKP had speculated about a dismissal last year and reported that the government was at odds over how to stem the growing violence against women. Ankara has introduced monitoring of violent people and a smartphone app for alerting the police to women, which has already been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times.
The Minister for Family, Labor and Social Policy Zehra Zumrut announced on Twitter that the guarantee of women’s rights in Turkish laws and the Turkish constitution is sufficient: “Our judicial system is dynamic and strong enough to implement new regulations if necessary”. Critics of the exit say that Turkey will thereby move further away from the values of the EU, of which it remains a candidate for membership.
Erdogan’s decision comes after he unveiled judicial reforms this month that he says are likely to improve rights and freedoms and help meet EU standards.
Activists want to protest
Violence against women is a widespread problem in Turkey, as in many other countries. After leaving the convention, the activists of “We will stop feminicide” now called for protests against the decision via Twitter. The general secretary of the organization Fidan Ataselim said the government would endanger the lives of millions of women by leaving. She called on the Turkish leadership to reverse the decision and apply the convention. In a video shared on Twitter, she said, “You cannot lock millions of women at home, you cannot wipe millions of women from the streets and squares.”
According to the organization, at least 300 women were murdered by men in Turkey last year alone. Recently, the rape and murder of a 92-year-old woman and the video of a brutal act in which a man molested his ex-wife fueled the discussion about violence against women.
On March 8th, on International Women’s Day in Istanbul, thousands of people demonstrated peacefully for equality and against violence against women. Erdogan had said on the day that they wanted to take stronger action against violence against women and strengthen families, whose foundations are “husband and wife”, as an institution.
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