Turkey sparked both domestic and international outrage yesterday after it withdrew from the world’s first binding treaty to prevent and combat violence against women.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government announced the decision on Friday, which was the latest victory for conservatives in his nationalist party and their allies who argued the treaty damaged family unity.
The 2011 Istanbul Convention signed by 45 countries and the European Union, requires governments to adopt legislation prosecuting domestic violence and similar abuse as well as marital rape and female genital mutilation.
“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.” Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic Buricshe said.
Conservatives claimed that the charter damages family unity, encourages divorce anf that its references to equality were being used by the LGBT community to gain broader acceptance in society.
The publication of the decree in the official gazette immediately sparked anger among Turkish rights groups and calls for protests in Istanbul.
“Despite you and your evil, we will stay alive and bring back the convention,” Gokce Gokcen, deputy chairperson of the main opposition party, CHP tweeted.
Women have taken to the streets across Turkey since an official from Erdogan’s ruling party raised the prospect of withdrawing from the treaty last year.