Turkish women start social media campaign against withdrawal from Istanbul Convention

Prominent women in Turkey have started a social media campaign against the government’s decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, the Council of Europe’s (CoE) binding treaty to prevent and combat violence against women, which will become effective on July 1.

According to Deutsche Welle Turkish service (DW), the hashtag “The Istanbul Convention is for all of us” (İstanbul Sözleşmesi hepimizin), was shared widely on Twitter and Instagram.

The Istanbul Convention was opened for signature during the CoE Ministers Committee meeting hosted by Turkey in 2011.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan issued an executive decree on March 20 annulling Turkey’s ratification of the treaty. Turkey was the first member state to ratify the CoE convention.

Journalist Melis Alphan said everyone should resist the decision to withdraw from the convention before it goes into effect. Many women joined the campaign, saying gender-based violence was increasing in Turkey and that implementing the convention was the most important way of preventing it.

Opposition parties also took part in the online campaign. The right-wing İYİ (Good) Party filed a submission in March with the Council of State requesting the cancellation of Erdoğan’s executive decree withdrawing Turkey from the Istanbul Convention.

survey conducted by Metropoll has revealed that 52.3 percent of Turks are against the government’s decision to withdraw from the convention.

Gender-based violence is serious problem in Turkey. According to a report published earlier by Sezgin Tanrıkulu,  a human rights defender and Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker, nearly 7,000 women have been victims of femicide during the 18 years that the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been in power.

Despite alarming data, Turkey withdrew from the convention instead of working for its better implementation because Turkish conservatives claimed the charter damaged family unity, encouraged divorce and that its references to equality were being used by the LGBT community to gain broader acceptance in society.

World leaders, including US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, international and regional organizations and rights groups have reacted negatively to Turkey’s decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention.

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