Turkey: Treaty exit won't deter 'protection of women'

Turkey won't stop fighting domestic violence with exit from Istanbul Convention, says Communications Directorate

Turkey: Treaty exit won't deter 'protection of women'

By Sena Guler


Turkey's decision to withdraw from a European treaty on preventing violence against women "by no means denotes that Turkey compromises protection of women," Turkey's Communications Directorate said Sunday.

"The decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention by no means denotes that Turkiye [Turkey] 'compromises the protection of women.' The Turkish State has continuously stressed that the country will not give up on its fight against domestic violence by quitting the Convention," the directorate said in a written statement on the country's decision announced early on Saturday.

Stressing that the convention permits any party to terminate it by notifying the Council of Europe, the statement said: "As known, Turkiye was the first signatory to the Istanbul Convention by demonstrating a strong commitment to protect women’s status in society and fight any violence against women."

On the reason of withdrawal, the directorate said the convention's original intention of promoting women's rights "was hijacked by a group of people attempting to normalize homosexuality" and that it is incompatible with Turkey's social and family values.

Highlighting that Turkey was not the only country with "serious concerns" about the convention, it said six members of the EU, namely Bulgaria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia, also have not ratified the treaty.

"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," it said.

On Turkey's fight against violence against women and domestic violence, it said the nation's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan strongly emphasizes that Turkey "will continue protecting the safety and 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," it said.

Emphasizing the "concrete steps" taken by the Turkish government to support and improve women's rights, it said such mechanisms are still in place.

- Focus on reforms against violence

The directorate also underlined that new reforms would be implemented in the face of increasing violence against women and added that Turkey would continue to focus on measures to address the society's specific needs and strengthen ongoing efforts in this regard.

The Turkish Constitution, Civil Law, and Penal Code, as well as a 2012 law on the protection of the family and the prevention of violence against women serve as legal mechanisms to uphold and promote women's rights, said the statement.

It added that Turkey also remains a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

"It must be noted that Turkiye'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."

Referring to the groundbreaking Human Rights Action Plan announced in early March, it said: "With no doubt, Turkiye will take additional steps to improve the effectiveness of existing precautions against domestic violence and violence against women."

- Istanbul Convention

Turkey was the first country to ratify the European convention adopted in Istanbul in 2011.

The convention seeks to prevent violence against women, including domestic violence, and bring an end to legal impunity for perpetrators.

While the convention was enforced in 34 countries, including Turkey, some countries -- Ukraine, the UK, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Moldova, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Latvia, Hungary, Armenia, and Bulgaria -- signed the document but have yet to ratify.

The EU signed the convention on June 13, 2017, while Council of Europe members Russia and Azerbaijan did not.

Some items of the convention caused discussion on the subject of gender equality in Turkey, with critics saying they damage traditional family values.

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