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'Istanbul Convention Saves Lives': Women Protest, Turkey Withdraws

Turkey formally withdrew from the Istanbul Convention on 1 July, putting women at a greater risk.

Updated
Gender
2 min read

Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam

Thousands of women across Turkey – from Ankara to Istanbul – took to the streets on Thursday, 1 July, protesting against their government's formal withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention.

While the announcement was made on 20 March, the Erdogen government pulled out of the human rights treaty on 1 July – putting women at a greater risk.

What Is the Istanbul Convention

Formally known as the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, the Istanbul Convention is a human rights treaty. It aims to safeguard women against various forms of violence and protect their rights by ending legal impunity offered to perpetrators.

As many as 33 countries, including Poland, Bulgaria, Slovakia, and Hungary, are a part of this treaty.

While it opened to signatures on 11 May 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey was the first country to sign the treaty in 2012.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Women protest against Turkey's withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention on 1 July.</p></div>

Women protest against Turkey's withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention on 1 July.

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@istsozuygula)

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The Reason For Withdrawal

When the government first announced that it will be withdrawing from the convention, it did not provide reasons.

Women came out in large numbers, pointing to rising domestic violence and questioning the government's decision.

However, this doesn't comes as a surprise as the conservatives have been arguing that the treaty undermined traditional family system and ‘encouraged women to divorce’ – arguments that were also used to initiate crackdown against the LGBTQIA+ community.
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Women protest against Turkey's withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention on 1 July.</p></div>

Women protest against Turkey's withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention on 1 July.

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter/@Zeynep)

The government said that the treaty was being 'hijacked' by those who wanted to normalise homosexuality.

The withdrawal stands, despite the United States and the European Union coming down heavily on Turkey.

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How Will Women Be Protected?

Turkish President Tayynip Erdogan said that the country's domestic violence regulations are sufficient to combat violence against women.

"Just like our fight against violence towards women did not start with the Istanbul Convention, it will not end by withdrawing from this convention," he said.

But women of the country disagree.

"The withdrawal will empower perpetrators of violence while making the victims more powerless. So, we have to take on the protection work that authorities do," Gulsum Kav, Turkish feminist activist, told Al Jazeera.

"We will continue our struggle. Turkey is shooting itself in the foot with this decision," Canan Gullu, president of the Federation of Turkish Women's Association, said, reported France24.

The women agreed with her as they raise slogans of 'Istanbul Convention Saves Lives'.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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