Turkey Erdogan: Women rise up over withdrawal from Istanbul Convention Favorite 



Mar 28 2021



It has been a tumultuous and anxious week for women in Turkey. When President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a decree at midnight last Friday, annulling Turkey's ratification of the Istanbul Convention on violence against women, women poured onto the streets of Turkish cities to protest. Further demonstrations are planned.

The convention is a legally binding Council of Europe treaty, covering domestic violence and seeking to end legal impunity for perpetrators. It covers 34 European countries and took effect in 2014. Among the protesters' slogans were "Istanbul Convention saves lives" and "We don't accept one man's decision". Women's rights activists, lawyers, and opposition politicians have denounced Mr. Erdogan's decree, insisting he cannot legally take Turkey out of an international convention ratified by parliament.

Women are killed in Turkey every day and critics argue that this move puts women in even greater danger. According to Turkey's We Will Stop Femicide Platform, at least 300 women were murdered in 2020, mostly by their partners, and 171 more women were found dead under suspicious circumstances. Turkey was the first state to ratify the convention, by a unanimous vote in the parliament in 2012, and it was actively supported by the Women and Democracy Association (Kadem), whose vice-chair is President Erdogan's daughter. He even praised the convention at one point as evidence that Turkey was a leader in gender equality.

However, Mr. Erdogan has recently become more vulnerable politically. He has bowed to the demands of hardliners, both within his conservative AK party and in the Islamist opposition Felicity Party, in return for their support. Opponents of the convention have complained it encourages divorce and undermines traditional family values. They find it especially problematic that signatories have to protect victims from discrimination regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Their worry is that this single clause may lead to gay marriage. To quell the critics, senior AKP members announced they would deal with domestic violence through judicial reform and an Ankara Convention that would claim its power from "traditions and customs". For many women, the scrapping of the convention is a huge disappointment. They were expecting the judiciary and police to be instrumental in cracking down on violence against women and LGBT+ people.

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To quell the protesters, the government announced they would deal with domestic violence through judicial reform and an Ankara Convention that would claim its power from "traditions and customs". However, the authority still didn't plan to recover Turkey's ratification of the Istanbul Convention.