On 20 March 2021 (Saturday), Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan withdrew Turkey from the Istanbul Convention without any parliamentary debate.
The Istanbul Convention is a human rights treaty designed to prevent gender-based violence against women and LGBTQ+ members, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators. It aims to uphold their fundamental human right through creating a life free from violence and terror.
Leaving the Convention would effectively deprive them of equal legal protections against abuse and violence they face everyday in our societies.
Why was this decision made? | Criticisms of the Istanbul Convention
Turkey was the first country to sign the convention in 2012, when Erdoğan was the prime minister. However, some religious and conservative groups had began criticizing and protesting against the Treaty from the start, for the following reasons:
- They believe that the Convention harms and undermines the traditional family values as it encourages divorce.
- It “promotes homosexuality” by advocating for the LGBTQ+ community
with the use of categories like gender, sexual orientation and gender identity. Critics see this as a threat to Turkish families. Hate speech has been on the rise in Turkey; on January 30th, the interior minister had even described LGBTQ+ people as “perverts” in a tweet.
- Turkey’s Family and Social Policies Minister Zehra Zumrut argued that the current judicial system is “strong enough to implement new regulations as needed” to protect women and their rights.
How does this affect women? | Statistics
The problem with Turkey’s implementation of the Istanbul Convention was that it was not even implemented correctly and effectively.
Although the Convention was signed in 2012, thousands of women have been killed in the past decade; while their murderers are allowed to walk free and unscathed.
Violence against women in Turkey has not been improving. Instead, rates of domestic violence and femicide have continued to rise. In fact, 2019 reported the most number of women killed in the past decade, with a devastating number of 474 women. In the next year, according to Turkey’s We Will Stop Femicide Platform, at least 300 women were killed by their male partners in 2020, with an additional 171 women found suspiciously dead. So far in 2021, 78 women have died from femicide.
This needs to stop. How many more innocent women have to die for them to realise the problem?
Here are some recent attack cases:
- On March 7, a woman named Reyhan Korkmaz was violently killed by her husband in front of their four children. This was even after she had obtained a restraining order against her husband after previous violent incidents.
- On March 13, a mother of three children named Husna was killed after her husband shot her five times.
This decision has ignited anger and shock amongst the people of Turkey, who have seen their country experiencing a sharp increase in violence and femicides.
- “I don’t want to die,” – Okyanus Curebal
- “We can no longer talk about ‘family’…in a relationship where one side is oppressed and subject to violence,” – The Women and Democracy Association (KADEM), of which Erdogan’s daughter Sumeyye is deputy chairwoman.
- “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” – Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejcinovic Buric
- “We live in a country that still doesn’t believe in equality between men and women. I think they are afraid of women, and of women being the equals of men and that’s why they withdrew.” – Ozum Buzoglu
Ways to help:
THERE IS BARELY ANY MEDIA COVERAGE OUTSIDE OF TURKEY REGARDING THIS ISSUE. DON’T STAY SILENT. PLEASE SPEAK UP AND SHARE THIS. THESE WOMEN AND LGBTQ+ PEOPLE NEED THEIR VOICES HEARD. THEY NEED OUR HELP.
- Sign this petition to enforce the Istanbul Convention in Turkey. Laws to end hateful violence needs to be implemented effectively in order to protect these innocent people and prevent more from dying. (http://chng.it/nmWNPWCjC5)
- Donate to Purple Roof Women’s Shelter Organisation, an organisation that offers legal advice, counselling and medical support to victims of domestic abuse and survivors of sex trafficking. (https://en.morcati.org.tr/donate/)
- Spread We Will Stop Femicide’s message of women being able to lead independent and free lives.