Several countries and organizations have condemned Turkey’s decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, a treaty established to combat violence against women. France and Germany have stated in separate statements that the Turkish decision is the wrong signal.
“This decision will mainly affect Turkish women, to whom France expresses its solidarity,” said the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The German counterpart said: “Cultural, religious or other national traditions should not serve as an excuse to ignore violence against women”.
The Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, the organization under which the convention falls, has said that it is “devastated”. Marija Pejcinovic Buric: “This is all the more regrettable as it jeopardizes the protection of women in Turkey, in Europe and beyond.”
In Istanbul and other places in Turkey, women took to the streets to demonstrate against President Erdogan’s decision. In doing so, they used the slogan: “Withdraw the decision, implement the treaty!” One of the women demonstrating is thirty-year-old Dilan Akyuz. Press agency AP told her: “We are very angry. We cannot handle it if even one woman is killed. Our tolerance for this is gone.”
Many police were present at the demonstration in Istanbul, but riots did not occur. A woman with a megaphone shouted, “You can’t lock millions of women in their homes. You can’t take them away from the streets and the squares!”
View images of the demonstration here:
Violence against women is a major problem in Turkey. This year, 77 women have already been murdered in the country, the platform We Will Stop Femicide says. In previous years there were 300 and 450. They are often the victims of violence by their spouse, their ex-partner or family members.
The treaty was concluded in 2011 in Istanbul. In the years since, dozens of countries have ratified it, Turkey first in 2012. In recent years it has become increasingly clear that Turkey wanted to withdraw. According to President Erdogan’s AKP ruling party, the treaty is contrary to traditional Turkish family values. Opponents of the treaty also believe that it encourages divorce and homosexuality.
Turkish advocates of women’s rights took to the streets last summer to call on Turkey to make more efforts to comply with the treaty. Also two weeks ago, on International Women’s Day, demonstrations took place in Turkey. According to some Turkish lawyers, Erdogan’s decision is invalid. The Turkish president took the decision by presidential decree and would thus have sidelined parliament.
Turkey is not the first country to leave the Istanbul Convention. Last year, the very conservative Polish government announced its intention to take the same decision.