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Turkey’s Withdrawal From the Istanbul Convention and Why it is Problematic

Written by Prakriti Panwar, a grade 12 student

{Please note: This article talks about violence against women, mentions of murder and death – suggested reading age – 15 onwards)

By I Kid You Not , in World News , at April 9, 2021 Tags: , ,

Written by Prakriti Panwar, a grade 12 student

{Please note: This article talks about violence against women, mentions of murder and death – suggested reading age – 15 onwards)

Turkey’s decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention has led to grave concern about the growing violence against women in the country. The Istanbul Convention is an important human rights treaty that aims at “preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.” It was originally signed by all EU (European Union) states until recently when President Erdogan issued a decree declaring that Turkey would no longer be a part of the Istanbul Convention.

A little more about the Istanbul Convention

The human rights treaty gives the state the right to prevent all forms of violence, including physical, psychological, and verbal violence. It aims to prevent and eradicate all forms of gender-based violence, without any sort of exceptions. Emphasis is also laid on Civil Society Organisations ( such as NGOs and NPO)  that are a part of the community. They play an independent role and are neither a part of the government or the private sector. Law-making bodies of the government pay them for their advice and expertise so that they can work towards establishing fairer laws for the implementation of the Istanbul Convention. It also mentions offering help to victims in any and all forms possible, whether that be training, donation, or medical services. Feel free to read this simplified guide to learn more.

Coming back,

Women violence has always been an issue of grave concern in Turkey, and the country’s withdrawal from the Istanbul convention further poses a greater threat to victims and women. In fact, 2020 statistics reveal that at least 300 women were murdered, a majority of them by their partners, and 171 women, in addition, lost their lives under ‘suspicious circumstances.’ Ironically, Turkey was the first country to sign the convention.

This withdrawal also poses a threat to the LGBTQ+ community. Those who disagree with the views and aims of the Istanbul Convention have mentioned that the treaty encourages separation and divorce and “undermines traditional family values.” For them, the idea of signatories protecting victims regardless of their sexual orientation and gender identity is a point of concern. According to them, the Convention’s original aim of preventing and ending violence against women has been “hijacked by a group of people attempting to normalise homosexuality,” which apparently, is against Turkey’s “traditional values.”

The AK Party, a conservative party in Turkey has often expressed anti LGBT+ views, and Turkey’s latest actions are suspected to be due to President Erdogan’s increasing submissiveness towards the AK Party and the opposition Felicity Party, just to gain their support. However, this is just an assumption and analysis.

The AK Party announced that Turkey would deal with women’s violence through “judicial reforms” and a separate Ankara Convention that will stem from and respect Turkey’s “traditions and customs.”

In response to this abrupt and concerning withdrawal, rallies and protests have broken all across Turkey. In addition, people are also expressing their concern by signing petitions online and amplifying the issue through social media. The UN Women too (a United Nations Organisation working towards women’s rights) released a public statement signed by multiple governments and organisations in which they urged Turkey to “reconsider its withdrawal.”

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