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Istanbul Convention: Turkey withdraws from the women’s protection agreement

Status: March 20, 2021 12:48 p.m.

The Istanbul Convention had been discussed for a long time, but the decision came as a surprise. With immediate effect, Turkey is leaving the international agreement to protect women from violence.

From Karin Senz,
ARD-Studio Istanbul

“Withdraw your decision and stick to the contract,” demands Fidan Ataselim from the platform against feminicide of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in an internet video. Suffragettes post on Twitter that they could not have slept that night. Because now women have to fear for their lives even more.

Karin Senz

Karin Senz
ARD-Studio Istanbul

More than 300 women were murdered in Turkey last year, according to the platform – many of them by their husbands, ex-partners, brothers or other men in their immediate vicinity.

Almost two weeks ago, this brought many onto the streets on International Women’s Day, like 50-year-old Sema in Istanbul: “So many women have been killed by men, especially in the past two years. That’s why we have to defend ourselves. We make our decisions, live our lives, this is our street and our right. ”

Organizations are calling for nationwide protests

You are demanding freedom: on Women’s Day this year, the demonstrations were peaceful for the first time in a long time. Women’s organizations called for protests all over the country today – against Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention.

“You cannot ignore millions of women, lock them up at home, simply erase them from the streets. You cannot silence millions of women. We will be in the squares across the country today to defend the Istanbul Convention,” says the activist Ataselim.

The Istanbul Convention

The Istanbul Convention aims to better protect women and girls from violence – be it at home or elsewhere. The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence was opened for signature on May 11, 2011 in Istanbul. It has now been signed by 45 states and the European Union.
The signatory states undertake to classify violence against women and girls as well as all forms of domestic violence – such as rape in marriage – as a crime and to punish it accordingly. In addition, victims of violence are to be offered special protection facilities, such as women’s shelters, as well as psychological and social advice. According to the agreement, “violence” includes not only physical violence, but also gender-based discrimination, intimidation or economic exploitation.

Erdogan: “Above all, a woman is a mother”

Conservative politicians had long been pushing for the 2011 Istanbul Convention to be withdrawn. They saw traditional family structures in danger. President Erdogan also seems to prefer to see women at the stove than on the street or in the office.

On March 8, International Women’s Day, he said: “Above all, women are the mother and the very first home of the child.” However, Edogan also repeatedly promises to take action against violence against women. For example, there is an app that women can use to alert the police directly. It has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times.

More violence during the pandemic

Gülsüm Kav from a platform against femicides reports that women have had to endure more and more violence at home, especially since the corona pandemic: “In the pandemic year of all things, we are cut off the air we breathe instead of a little more air. They decide something, whereby we lose even more protection. We can never accept that. ”

The perpetrators are often not punished at all or punished too mildly, say activists. The signal to them could be fatal. Family Minister Selcuk opposes this on Twitter. Turkey’s judicial system is strong enough to protect women from violence.

Activist Nursen Inal is angry at Turkey’s move: “We have fought for years to have the Istanbul Convention applied. If that had been done, thousands of women would still be alive today.” Every Turkish woman is aware of this. “That’s why they fight with us for the convention, because they know that it will protect their lives. That is why we will never give up.”

Turkey withdraws from international women protection agreement

Karin Senz, ARD Istanbul, March 20, 2021 11:57 am

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