Turkish women raise their voices against possible withdrawal from Istanbul Convention

Amid the fear of Turkey’s possible withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, a Council of Europe treaty designed to prevent violence and domestic abuse against women, 155 Turkish women of letters published a joint statement on August 6 defending the convention, while women took to the streets across Turkey to protest the possible move.

The joint statement, signed by 155 prominent women of letters including Erendiz Atasü, Buket Uzuner, Gonca Özmen, Latife Tekin, Necmiye Alpay, İnci Aral, Müge İplikçi, Ayşe Sarısayın and Karin Karakaşlı, emphasized that femicide had turned into an epidemic in Turkey, saying it is unacceptable to withdraw from the convention.

The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence, the first European treaty specifically targeting violence against women and domestic violence, recently caused discord inside Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), with conservative circles claiming that it would corrode traditional Turkish family and values.

Commenting on Turkey’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention, AKP Deputy Chair Numan Kurtulmuş had earlier said it was wrong to become party to the convention, indicating that the government might consider withdrawing from it.

“Although we were one of the countries that signed the Istanbul Convention, the gaps and flaws in practice have caused femicide to turn into an epidemic over the past nine years. … That is because those who murder women and abuse children believe they will not get the punishment they legally deserve. With the absence of social and legal sanctions, they continue to exploit, abuse, rape and kill, not quenching their appetite for destruction,” the joint statement said.

“It is unacceptable to discuss withdrawal from the convention nowadays, while the convention should be put into practice in all relevant situations so that gender equality becomes a daily practice of the community.”

In addition thousands of women simultaneously took to the streets across Turkey protesting the possible withdrawal and calling for full implementation of the İstanbul Convention.

In one of the demonstrations held in İstanbul’s Kadıköy district, the names of women murdered by men in Turkey were read out loud, with the participants responding “Here” in unison.

In a statement the participating women said: “The AKP Central Executive Board [MYK] was to have gathered today to decide on the fate of the Istanbul Convention. They would have brazenly made a decision concerning all women of this country at a party meeting. This meeting was postponed to August 13 thanks to the women’s protests. We will continue to raise our voices.”

Police intervened and detained 10 women at a demonstration in İzmir’s Alsancak district.

The convention was opened for signature in Istanbul in May 2011 and entered into force in August 2014. So far 45 Council of Europe member states have signed the convention, while 34 of them have ratified it, with Turkey being the first among 34 ratifying countries.

A meeting of the ruling AKP’s MYK to decide on the fate of the convention scheduled to take place on August 5 was postponed.

Amnesty International warned on August 5 that Turkish authorities should fully implement the Istanbul Convention rather than withdraw from it.

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