Main opposition leader Kılıçdaroğlu vows to reinstate Istanbul Convention

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (file photo)

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has pledged to reinstate the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty to combat violence against women, when his party comes to power.

“We promise people a beautiful Turkey. …The Istanbul Convention will definitely come back into force,” said Kılıçdaroğlu during a speech at the CHP group meeting in parliament on Tuesday.

Last week the chief public prosecutor’s office at the Council of State, Turkey’s highest administrative court, called for the cancellation of a presidential decree that required the withdrawal of Turkey from the convention.

The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention, is an international accord designed to protect women’s rights and prevent domestic violence in societies and was opened to signature of member countries of the Council of Europe in 2011.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sparked outrage in Turkey and the international community after he issued a decree in March 2021 that pulled the country out of the international treaty, which requires governments to adopt legislation prosecuting perpetrators of domestic violence and similar abuse as well as marital rape and female genital mutilation.

Amid calls from women’s rights organizations and world leaders, such as US President Joe Biden, for reinstatement of the Istanbul Convention, the Council of State has so far rejected numerous appeals requesting the cancellation of Erdoğan’s executive decree withdrawing Turkey from the convention. However, new appeals have recently been filed with the court demanding cancellation of the relevant presidential decree. The court is now examining an appeal filed by the Diyarbakır Bar Association.

survey conducted by Metropoll revealed last year that 52.3 percent of Turks were against the withdrawal from the convention. While more than a majority of participants opposed it, 26.7 percent approved and 10.2 percent had no opinion.

Femicides and violence against women are serious problems in Turkey, where women are killed, raped or beaten every day. Many critics say the main reason behind the situation is the policies of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, which protects violent and abusive men by granting them impunity.

According to the We Will Stop Femicide Platform (Kadın Cinayetlerini Durduracağız Platformu), 280 women were murdered in Turkey in 2021.

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