Hundreds of lives could have been saved if the Istanbul Convention was properly implemented: report

At least 2,336 women who were killed by family members or people close to them would still be alive if the Istanbul Convention had been properly implemented by Turkish authorities since it entered into force in 2014, according to a report published by the Women for Equality Platform (EŞİK).

The report, which was prepared on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Istanbul Convention, the Council of Europe’s (CoE) binding treaty to prevent and combat violence against women, said at least 330 women in the last three years alone could have been saved.

The Istanbul Convention, which had been signed by 45 countries and the European Union as of March 2019, requires governments to adopt legislation prosecuting domestic violence and similar abuse as well as marital rape and female genital mutilation. Turkey was the first member state to ratify the CoE convention, which was opened for signature in Istanbul during Turkey’s chairmanship of the organization 10 years ago.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sparked outrage in Turkey and the international community when he issued a decree on March 20 that pulled the country out of the international treaty.

According to the report in the first 12 hours after the withdrawal six women were killed. At least 24 women were killed in the first month and another 21 women died under suspicious circumstances.

Moreover, three men who were sentenced to life in prison for killing their partners were acquitted by appeals courts. Some police stations reportedly turned away women who sought help and restraining orders from abusive partners.

In a statement EŞİK said they did not recognize Erdogan’s decision to withdraw from the convention without parliamentary deliberation. “This decision is against the Constitution, and international law,” said the statement.

According to the statement withdrawing from the convention was the first step in depriving women of their hard-earned rights. “First the government issued a pardon to people convicted of child abuse, then they withdrew from the Istanbul Convention. So what is next? Are they going to abolish other laws protecting women and even the civil law?” said the statement.

Turkey’s decision to withdraw from the convention was met with criticism from several international leaders.

US President Joe Biden said Turkey’s withdrawal from the accord was “deeply disappointing” and a step backward in efforts to end violence against women globally.

High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and CoE Secretary-General Marija Pejcinovic were among European leaders who harshly criticized the withdrawal.

United Nations agencies also called on Turkey to reconsider its decision.

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