Amidst protest, Turkey pulls out from the Istanbul convention

The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence is widely known as the Istanbul Convention. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pulled the country out of the convention, which aimed at providing legal backing to the protection of women.

The Protest

On Saturday, 20th March 2021, several people came on the streets to protest against the country’s withdrawal from the Istanbul convention when Turkey accounts for shockingly high rates of femicides. The decision of rolling back from the Istanbul convention is also receiving criticism worldwide considering the overwhelming cases of gender-based violence, honor killings, and domestic violence in recent years, as this only leads to a compromise on the protection of women.

Turkish officials argue that the national laws are enough to provide a legal backing to the protection of women against violence, but Turkish activist and the women population of the country do not find the existing laws of the country enough to help create the country a safe space for women considering the reports of World Health Organisation which say that around 38% of women in Turkey are subject to domestic violence and We Will Stop Femicide’ platform reported 300 femicides in Turkey in 2020. Cases of domestic violence also saw a spike during the pandemic.

The country’s take on Women

On the night of March 10, In an operation ordered by the Istanbul prosecutor’s office against 18 women’s rights activists, the Istanbul police detained 13 of them, including a Minor. The women’s rights movement in Turkey is one of the strongest parts of civil society in the heavily polarized country, and it is deeply critical of government policies on gender. On International Women’s Day, celebration officials prevented women from demonstrating rainbow objects/flags, and attempts were made to stop trans women from attending the events. Anti-LGBTQ policy has added to making the country unsafe for women.

The Opposition CHP party has criticized Erdogan for the move. Gokce Gokcen, deputy chairman of the CHP, tweeted that abandoning the treaty meant “keeping women second class citizens and letting them be killed.”

US President, Biden, has called it Turkey’s “sudden” and “unwarranted” decision, which is nothing but disappointing and stresses upon creating societies where women are able to go about their lives free from violence.

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