Erdogan Bows to Religious Conservatives, Pulls Out of Domestic Violence & Women's Rights Treaty



On Friday, President Tayyip Erdogan pulled Turkey out of an international convention meant to protect women from domestic violence and ensure equal rights under the law. Demonstrations erupted across the country yesterday in response to the decision. Many women activists believe the treaty is necessary to fight the rising tide of domestic violence in Turkey.

The Council of Europe agreement, known [ironically] as the Istanbul Convention, calls for signatory nations to create laws to prevent and prosecute domestic violence and promote gender equality. Turkey signed it in 2011 but violence against women has surged in the country in recent years.

Washington Post: "In a statement, the Council of Europe called news of Turkey’s withdrawal from the convention “devastating.”
“The Istanbul Convention covers 34 European countries and is widely regarded as the gold standard in international efforts to protect women and girls from the violence that they face every day in our societies."
“This move is a huge setback to these efforts and all the more deplorable because it compromises the protection of women in Turkey, across Europe and beyond."

Many religious conservatives in Turkey and in Erdogan’s Islamist AKP Party say the pact harms traditional family structures by undermining male dominance, encouraging divorce, and spurs women to seek careers outside the home. Others argue that the convention's protections of gender equality promote homosexuality because it proscribes discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Washington Post: "In recent years, Erdogan and other members of his ruling party have joined the calls to torpedo the agreement, citing a threat to conservative mores. “We will not leave room for a handful of deviants who try to turn the debate into a tool of hostility to our values,” Erdogan told members of his party during a speech in Ankara in August."

Erdogan's decision to leave the Istanbul Convention may be meant to firm up his domestic support with religious conservatives at a time when his popularity is declining in Turkey and he faces a difficult reelection campaign in 2023.

New York Times: "Mr. Erdogan’s Islamist-leaning government has sought to recast the debate over women’s rights by supporting traditional family values over equality for women, and by emphasizing women’s role as nurturers of children."

Women activists in Turkey warned that Erdogan's decision will be seen as a green light to greater levels of domestic violence.

ABC News: Numerous women's rights groups slammed the decision, saying laws protecting women are inadequately enforced. Advocacy group Women's Coalition Turkey said the withdrawal from a human rights agreement was a first in Turkey. “It is clear that this decision will further encourage the murderers of women, harassers, rapists,” their statement said.

#news #Turkey

By: Don Lam & Curated Content

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