Turkey’s withdrawal from the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention, which aims to reduce and prevent domestic abuse against women, has sparked outrage across the world.
Turkey was the first country to ratify the Council of Europe’s convention, otherwise known as the Istanbul Convention. The treaty earlier had 45 signatories plus the EU.
Europe’s rights body, the Council of Europe, criticized Turkey’s withdrawal from a treaty it sponsored and expressed concern about global efforts to protect women and girls.
“This move is a huge setback to these efforts and all the more deplorable because it compromises the protection of women in Turkey, across Europe and beyond,” said Council of Europe secretary-general Marija Pejcinovic Buric in a statement.
“The Istanbul Convention covers 34 European countries and is widely regarded as the gold standard in international efforts to protect women and girls from the violence that they face every day in our societies,” she added.
French Foreign Ministry also expressed regret over Turkey’s decision to leave the EU-backed Istanbul Convention on women’s rights.
“France deeply regrets the decision of the Turkish authorities to withdraw from the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention, when Turkey was the first country to ratify it in 2011,” the ministry said in a statement.
The United Nations (UN) also voiced concern over Turkey’s withdrawal from the Convention and urged “Turkey to reconsider its withdrawal”.
“This action comes at a point when concerted international action and commitment to end violence against women and girls is more important than ever and as UN Women is seeking to mobilize even greater multi-stakeholder and cross-generational action on this issue, with the women’ movement being key in these efforts,” said UN Women in a statement.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Saturday called on Turkey to reverse its decision to leave the EU-backed Istanbul Convention.
“Now is the time to show leadership and enhance global efforts to fight violence against women and girls, not to retreat. This is why we cannot but regret deeply and express incomprehension towards the decision of the Turkish government to withdraw from this convention that even bears the name of Istanbul. This decision risks compromising the protection and fundamental rights of women and girls in Turkey,” Borrell said in a statement.
The foreign policy chief of the EU further said that Turkey’s decision sends a dangerous message across the world while stressing that the rights of women and girls are a fundamental element of equality and security in the 21st century.
“The Istanbul Convention is the first international legally binding instrument to combat violence against women and domestic violence. It aims at ensuring essential legal protection to women and girls across the world. This is today more important than ever, as violence against women and girls has increased to new levels worldwide as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and of the many conflicts, where women are primary victims. We, therefore, cannot but urge Turkey to reverse its decision,” Borrell remarked.
Meanwhile, Turkish top leaders are supporting the country’s withdrawal from the landmark treaty.
Taking to Twitter to praise the decision, Vice President Fuat Oktay said: “We are determined to carry our sincere struggle to raise the reputation and dignity of Turkish women to the levels they deserve in the society, by preserving our traditional social fabric. There is no need to seek the remedy outside, to imitate others. The solution is in our traditions and customs, in our essence.”
“Existence or absence of international conventions does not reduce or increase our responsibilities to prevent any form of crime that our citizens will face and our work as a requirement of this responsibility,” wrote Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.