On 20 March 2021, Türkiye has unilaterally withdrawn from the Istanbul Convention. Article 80 of the Istanbul Convention permits any party to denounce it by notifying the Council of Europe.
As known, Türkiye was the first signatory to the Istanbul Convention by demonstrating a strong committment to protect women’s status in society and fight any violence against women. It is frequently asked why Türkiye has suddenly decided to pull out of the convention. The Istanbul Convention, originally intended to promote women’s rights, was hijacked by a group of people attempting to normalize homosexuality – which is incompatible with Türkiye’s social and family values. Hence the decision to withdraw.
Türkiye is not the only country who has serious concerns about the Istanbul Convention. Six members of the European Union (Bulgaria, Hungary, Czechia, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia) did not ratify the Istanbul Convention. Poland has taken steps to withdraw from the Convention, citing an attempt by the LGBT community to impose their ideas about gender on the entire society.
The decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention by no means denotes that Türkiye “compromises the protection of women.” The Turkish State has continously stressed that the country will not give up on its fight against domestic violence by quitting the Convention.
In relation to the issue, President Erdoğan strongly emphasizes that Türkiye will continue protecting the safety and the rights of all women. He underlines that fighting domestic violence with the principle of zero tolerance will remain on top of the government’s agenda.
Türkiye’s government has taken concrete steps to uphold and promote women’s rights. Those mechanisms are still in place. Türkiye will implement new reforms in the face of growing violence against women. Following the withdrawal from the Convention, Government bodies will focus on measures that will address the specific needs of the society and strenghten ongoing efforts to that end.
Those legal mechanisms include the Turkish Constitution as well as our nation’s civil law, penal code and the Law no. 6284 on the Protection of the Family and the Prevention of Violence Against Women (2012).
Türkiye is also party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
It must be noted that Türkiye’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention has zero impact on the implementation of strict, effective and real-world measures, including a landmark legislation that President Erdogan’s government drafted, sponsored and passed.
With no doubt, Türkiye will take additional steps to improve the effectiveness of existing precautions against domestic violence and violence against women – as part of the Human Rights Action Plan that was unveiled earlier this month.