Turkey has withdrawn from a historic international treaty aimed at preventing violence against women in a movement that says rights groups will be at greater risk in a country where domestic violence and femicide are high.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a decree early on Saturday to dissolve Turkey’s obligations under the Council of Europe Treaty, dubbed the Istanbul Treaty, after it was opened for signature in 2011 in the country’s largest city. The pact provides governments with legal and social guidelines to curb violence. against women and is signed by 45 countries and the EU.
Erdogan once praised the Istanbul Convention as proof that Turkey was a leader in gender equality. But senior members of his ruling party last year said Turkey should leave the pact, arguing that it was inconsistent with conservative Islamic morals and encouraging divorce and homosexuality. Their calls were answered by widespread protests from women who said Turkey is already failing to fulfill its obligations under the treaty and should maintain the agreement rather than withdraw it.
Last year, according to the We Will Stop Femicide Platform, at least 300 women were murdered in Turkey for their gender and 171 women were found dead under suspicious circumstances. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 40 percent of women in Turkey are subject to violence by their partners, compared to about 25 percent in Europe.
Polls last year showed that the vast majority of Turks wanted to stay with the Istanbul Convention. The decision to give up shows the influence hardliners have gained in Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted party as it seeks to strengthen its base amid voter discontent during a protracted economic downturn.
Erdogan has recently pledged political and economic measures to restore credibility with investors and restore strained relations with Western partners. This month he announced another “human rights action plan” to meet EU membership criteria, including pledges to strengthen the protection of women and compliance with international rights treaties.
“We believe that a world where women are strong, families and society are strong. Work to solve women’s problems remains a major problem for our government, ” Fahrettin Altun, Erdogan’s communications director, said in a tweet after the presidential decree was published in the official newspaper.
Gokce Gokcen, deputy chairman of the secular opposition Republican People’s Party, said in a tweet that the decree illegally circumvented parliamentary authority and “translates as” women should remain second-class citizens and even be murdered “.