The so-called Istanbul Convention was intended to protect women in Turkey from domestic violence. Now the country has withdrawn from the agreement – despite massive criticism and international protests.
Turkey officially withdrew from an international agreement to protect women from violence on Thursday. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced this move in March, which had met with massive criticism at home and abroad. The USA and the European Union had condemned the withdrawal from the so-called Istanbul Convention.
There were massive protests in Turkey, and an application in court to prevent Brexit failed this week. Women’s rights organizations fear that women affected will now be less able to seek and get help from domestic violence.
Erdogan: Leaving is not a step backwards
The Turkish President defended the move on Thursday. Some circles tried to portray the withdrawal from the convention as a “step backwards”, criticized Erdogan. “Our fight against violence against women did not start with the Istanbul Convention and does not end with the withdrawal from this convention.”
Erdogan announced a determined fight against violence against women, which he personally supports. With a so-called “action plan” one wants to increase the sensitivity of society to violence against women. Erdogan said that Turkey already has an effective law against violence, without making any distinctions in religion, gender or race. However, the President omitted discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation from this list.
Promotion of equality tipped
The Istanbul Convention was signed in 2011 in the largest Turkish city. It obliges signatories to prevent and prosecute domestic violence and to promote equality.
Conservatives in Turkey and Erdoğan’s Islamic-conservative AKP party see the agreement as a threat to family structures. Some were bothered by the principle of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation laid down there and saw it as promoting homosexuality.