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October 27th, 2020

Turkey: Do Not Withdraw from Istanbul Convention to Protect Women

topic:Women’s rights
type:Petition
by:Yair Oded

As violence against women surges in Turkey, the Turkish government is considering a withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention to Protect Women - a step that would increase women’s vulnerability to violence and all but relieve their attackers of culpability. 

The government’s discussions concerning withdrawal from the international treaty has sparked a wave of protests in Turkey. Now, a Change.org petition launched by Yaşamak İstiyoruz is calling on the government to immediately end discussions on withdrawal and to take concrete actions to implement the treaty’s provisions into law. 

The petition has so far garnered over 505,000 signatures out of its goal of 1,000,000. 

The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, also referred to as the Istanbul Convention, was signed first by Turkey and subsequently by 33 other nations.

Among other provisions, the accord’s signatories commit to provide shelter for women and children in danger, prevent attackers from contacting or coming near the women or children they endanger, confiscate weapons from violators, and provide temporary assistance to female and children victims of abuse and support in identity-change requests. 

Since ratifying the treaty in 2011, Turkey has faltered on its commitment to uphold the accord’s provisions and failed to translate them into effective, binding legislation. In fact, violence against women has been steadily rising in Turkey over the past decade - with murder, rape, and domestic abuse of women and children growing endemic. According to Reuters, 474 femicides were reported in Turkey in 2019, which is double the number recorded in 2011. 

All the while, murder and abuse cases against women are being covered up and their assailers escape punishment. 

Turkey’s potential withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention will make a bad situation worse; it would erode the nation’s paltry legal protections of women already in existence and signal to both women and their attackers that women’s rights are not a concern for the government, effectively legitimatising violence against them. 

“With this petition, we demand that the discussions on withdrawing from the convention end immediately! And the laws to end violence against women be implemented effectively,” the petition’s author writes. “By signing and sharing the campaign, you can both demand our existing rights and ensure that this campaign reaches women who are not aware of these rights.”

Please click here to add your name to the petition. 

Image: Gianluca

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