On March 20, Turkey announced that it was withdrawing from the Istanbul Convention over what it calls the “normalization of homosexuality” treaty.
The Istanbul Convention is a legally binding human rights treaty of the Council of Europe to prevent, prosecute and eliminate domestic violence and promote gender equality. It was opened for firms in 2011 and 45 States have already signed it.
Erdogan expressed interest in withdrawing from the convention in 2020. The final decision came after the president revealed a human rights plan that says it would “improve rights and freedoms in Turkey and help the country comply with European Union standards.”
Ankara said in one statement:
The Istanbul Convention, originally intended to promote women’s rights, was hijacked by a group of people attempting to normalize homosexuality – which is incompatible with Türkiye’s social and family values. Hence the decision to withdraw.
The Istanbul Convention, originally intended to promote women’s rights, was hijacked by a group of people trying to normalize homosexuality, which is incompatible with Turkey’s social and family values. Hence, the retirement decision.
And they add:
The decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention by no means denotes that Turkey “compromises the protection of women.” The Turkish State has continuously stressed that the country will not give up on its fight against domestic violence by quitting the Convention.
The decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention in no way means that Turkey “endangers the protection of women.” Continuously, the Turkish state has emphasized that the country will not give in in its fight against domestic violence by withdrawing from the Convention.
In other statement, Fahrettin Altun, head of communications for the presidency, stressed that Turkey’s existing legislation is sufficient to prevent violence against women.
With these regulations that we made in our domestic law, we strengthened our legal infrastructure in terms of ‘combating violence against women’. From now on, we will implement new regulations to consolidate further the rights that our women have gained with a much more dynamic perspective. Our government will work with all its strength to end violence against women and to further empower women’s place in social life.
With these regulations that we have in our domestic law, we have strengthened our legal infrastructure in terms of ‘combating violence against women’. From now on, we will implement new regulations to further consolidate the rights that our women have won with a much more dynamic perspective. Our Government will work with all its might to end violence against women and to further strengthen the place of women in social life.
But is it really enough?
According to the local campaign group We will stop femicide, in Turkey they killed at least 28 women in February 2021.
The day Turkey withdrew from the convention, six women were killed within just 12 hours, according to the Social Gender Equality collective.
In July 2020, there were protests in several Turkish cities after the murder de Pınar Gültekin a manos de water, Cemal Metin Avci.
The Istanbul Convention obliges Member States to ensure that victims of violence have access to shelters, permanent helplines and other assistance services. Turkey currently has just a helpline (Hello 183) for women affected by violence. By 2020, there were only 145 shelters for women victims of violence throughout the country. In total, they have the capacity to house 3,482 women.
On March 20, women from all over Turkey took to the streets in protest against the withdrawal:
#IstanbulConvention protects women,children & minorities from violence. In a country where 3 women are killed every day, it was our only hope. By withdrawing from it now the Turkish government defies rule of law, human rights, gender equality and wages war against women #femicide pic.twitter.com/o9GLGQW79X
– Elif Shafak (@Elif_Safak) March 20, 2021
The Istanbul Convention protects women, minors and minorities from violence. In a country where three women are killed every day it was our only hope. With this withdrawal, the Turkish government challenges the rule of law, human rights, gender equality and starts a war against women.
The next day, people were invited to bang on pots and pans at 9:00 PM Istanbul time.
The most comprehensive virtual protest ever for the women’s rights in Turkey on #March21 Thousands will join to this unique protest. Join us. #Fight4WomenTurkey #IstanbulConvention
Youtube Link 👇👇👇https://t.co/hfMwPflT5j pic.twitter.com/n07mvr420X
— Advocates of Silenced Turkey (@silencedturkey) March 20, 2021
The largest virtual protest for women’s rights in Turkey on March 22. Thousands will join in this unique protest. Join up. Fight for the women of Turkey. Istanbul Convention.
“Make Noise for the #IstanbulConvention” – Expect banging on pots & pans tonight at 9pm as women’s groups call for continued action from balconies and windows to protest #Turkey’s withdrawal from international agreement to prevent violence against women #IstanbulConventionLives Lives https://t.co/DslTIsqXsX
– Jennifer Hattam (@TheTurkishLife) March 21, 2021
Women, come out to your balcony today to say Istanbul Convention.
“Make noise for the Istanbul Convention” – Pots and pans will be banging tonight at 9 pm, when groups of women call for continued action from balconies and windows to protest Turkey’s withdrawal from an international agreement to avoid violence against women.
Turkey’s decision also received criticism from international leaders and institutions:
The #IstanbulConvention aims at ensuring essential legal protection to women & girls across the world.
We cannot but regret deeply and express incomprehension towards the decision of the Turkish government to withdraw from this convention. We urge Turkey to reverse its decision. https://t.co/wnXcJ1pXAU
– Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) March 20, 2021
🇹🇷 Turkey: Statement by High Representative / Vice President Josep Borrell on Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention:
The objective of the Istanbul Convention to ensure essential legal protection for women and girls throughout the world.
We can only deeply regret and express incomprehension at the decision of the Turkish Government to withdraw from this convention. We urge Turkey to reverse its decision.
Surprised Turkey has withdrawn from #IstanbulConvention on combating violence against women. We must not weaken efforts to protect the safety of women & girls in Turkey. I expect our government to urge #Turkey to reconsider.
— Daniel Kawczynski (@DKShrewsbury) March 21, 2021
Surprised that Turkey has withdrawn from the Istanbul Convention to combat violence against women. We must not weaken efforts to protect the safety of women and girls in Turkey. I hope that our Government will urge Turkey to reconsider.
The decision by #Turkey to withdraw from the @coe “#IstanbulConvention” is alarming and deeply regrettable. Yet another example of the backsliding of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Turkey, this time for #women + #girls. #WomensHumanRights @MarijaPBuric, @JosepBorrellF
— NikosChristodoulides (@Christodulides) March 21, 2021
Turkey’s decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention is alarming and highly regrettable. Yet another example of the recurrence of human rights and fundamental rights in Turkey, this time for women and girls.
Council of Europe leaders react to #Turkey‘s announced withdrawal from #IstanbulConvention – https://t.co/SU2l6MJIEX Germany chairs @coe Council of Europe‘s Committee of Ministers until May 21, 2021 pic.twitter.com/Gq3VZIwVSO
— GermanForeignOffice (@GermanyDiplo) March 21, 2021
Turkey was the first state to ratify in 2012 the Council of the European Convention to Prevent and Combat Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, adopted in Istanbul during the Turkish presidency of the organization ten years ago. And he did it with the unanimous vote of the Grand National Assembly.
We deeply regret the decision of the President of Turkey to withdraw from this convention with much support in the country without parliamentary debate.
Let us remember that the purpose of the convention is to prevent violence against women, protect victims, and prosecute perpetrators. Defend the fundamental human rights of women to a life without violence.
Exiting the convention would deprive Turkey and the Turks of a vital tool to counter violence.
Therefore, we ask the Turkish authorities not to weaken the international system for the protection of women from violence in force by the Istanbul Convention..
Council of Europe leaders react to Turkey’s announced withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention – http://diplo.de/2449202
Germany chairs the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe until May 21, 2021.
— Rik Daems (@PACE_President) March 21, 2021
Council of Europe leaders react to Turkey’s announced withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention.
We ask the Turkish authorities not to weaken the international system for the protection of women from violence put into effect by the Council of Europe with the Istanbul Convention.