On Thursday, Turkey officially announced its withdrawal from an international convention on preventing violence against women. This decision has drawn condemnation from many Turks and Western allies after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced it in March.
“We will continue our struggle… Turkey is harming itself with this decision,” Canan Gulu, head of the Federation of Turkish Women’s Associations, said on Wednesday. She further added that since March 2021, women and other vulnerable groups have become more hesitant to seek help and less likely to receive it, as the Corona virus has exacerbated the economic difficulties causing a significant increase in violence.
Ankara’s withdrawal has been condemned by the United States and the European Union, and critics say that this step further repels Turkey from the bloc it applied to join in 1987.
It is noteworthy that the rate of femicide in Turkey has increased, as a group of monitors has been recording one case per day in the past five years. Supporters of the Convention and related legislation believe that a stricter enactment is needed. Oppositely, others consider that the Convention promotes homosexuality through the principle of non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.
The office of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkish President, took the lead before the official announcement of the withdrawal and pointed to a statement issued by the Administrative Court that stated, “Our country’s withdrawal from the Convention will not lead to any legal or practical failure that would affect our duty to prevent violence against women.”
For her part, Dunja Mijatović , Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, has sent a letter to the Ministers of both Interior and Justice in Turkey this month. In the letter, she has conveyed her concerns about the escalation of homophobic speeches by some officials.
“All measures stipulated in the Istanbul Convention solidify family foundations and ties by preventing and combating the main cause of family destruction, which is violence,” she says.