Erdoğan urges Turkish women to take stance against treaty on violence against women

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Monday urged women in Turkey to take a stance against the Istanbul Convention, a council of Europe human rights treaty against domestic and gender-based violence, which Turkey withdrew from earlier this year.

Turkey’s July exit from the convention, widely seen as the most powerful global compact to combat violence against women, sparked heavy criticism by Turkey’s Western allies and led to protests across the country faced with escalating violence against women and LGBT persons.

“Our women should react to whoever forms a sentence beginning with the  Istanbul Convention,’’ BBC Turkish cited Erdoğan as saying following a cabinet meeting in Ankara.

People who cite the convention in Turkey, Erdoğan said, are using the treaty for their own “deviant ideological agenda,’’ in an apparent reference to Turkish women’s rights groups, who have been outspoken critics of Turkey’s exit.

Turkey was the first signatory of the Istanbul Convention in 2011, but Islamist Turks lobbied Erdoğan’s Islamist-leaning government for more than a year to pull out of the convention, which they argue empowers LGBTI groups and threatens the family.

The treaty calls for signatory states to ensure the implementation of the convention with no discrimination based on a number of characteristics, including sex, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity. Ankara maintains the latter two were being used to “normalise homosexuality” and undermine Turkish family values.

Turkey’s exit from treaty is feared to place millions of women and girls at greater risk of violence in a country where domestic violence is prevalent and at least 300 women were murdered last year alone, according to Amnesty International.

Erdoğan’s remarks on Monday were met with criticism by women and women’s rights groups, who used the hashtags #istanbulsözleşmesi (Istanbul Convention) and #istanbulsözleşmesiyaşatır (The Istanbul Convention is life) on Twitter.

Leading women’s rights group We Will Stop Femicide Platform said the Turkish president’s remarks would not work to deter the group from its struggle for women in the country. 


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