Anger, calls for protests as Turkey exits treaty on women’s rights


dpa/GNA, – A decision by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention on women’s rights on Saturday has sparked outrage and a call for protests across the country.

The decision to exit the 2011 treaty, which aims to protect women against violence, was published in the country’s Official Gazette.

Rights groups and the opposition took to social media to decry the move, with the topic trending on Twitter. Several women’s rights groups urged protests for later on Saturday, including in Ankara and Istanbul.

Protests are planned in at least eight cities, local media, including the daily Evrensel reported.

“We reject withdrawing from the Istanbul Convention,” Mor Cati, an Istanbul-based foundation for victims of domestic violence, wrote on Twitter, calling for a protest in the city’s Kadikoy district.

Withdrawing from the convention will mean “letting women continue to be second class citizens and be killed,” Gokce Gokcen, deputy chairwoman of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) wrote on Twitter.

“We will stay alive and bring back the convention despite you and your evil,” she said, adding the withdrawal by a decree is “illegal and ignores the will of the parliament.”
Violence against women is a widespread problem in Turkey.

Erdogan’s ruling party officials raised the notion of abandoning the treaty last year as conservative groups argued the convention damaged families and religious values, while encouraging the LGBT community.

The debate had sparked street protests by rights groups.

Turkey does not need to “imitate others” to protect women’s rights but “the solution lies in our own customs and traditions,” Vice President Fuat Oktay wrote on Twitter.

Women’s rights are “guaranteed” by Turkish laws and the government will “continue our fight against violence,” Labor, Social Services and Family Minister Zehra Zumrut Selcuk was quoted as saying by state news agency Anadolu.

The Istanbul Convention, a treaty developed by the non-EU organization Council of Europe, aims to create a legal framework to prevent and fight against violence against women and domestic violence.

Erdogan had personally signed the convention in Istanbul when he was still prime minister.

It was later ratified in Turkey, but according to the country’s We Will Stop Femicide Platform, it was never applied.

The organization’s general secretary, Fidan Ataselim, said in a video shared on Twitter the government is “endangering the lives of millions of women” by leaving the treary.

She called on the government to reverse the decision and apply the convention.

“You cannot lock millions of women at home, you cannot wipe millions of women off the streets and squares. You can not silence millions of women.”

According to the We Will Stop Femicide Platform, at least 300 women were murdered by men in Turkey last year alone.

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