Turkey has formally left an international treaty intended to prevent violence against women, months after announcing plans to exit the agreement over concerns it had been “hijacked” and was no longer compatible with family values.
The nation’s official departure from the agreement comes after a last-ditch court appeal aimed at halting Turkey’s withdrawal was rejected by a three to two ruling against reversing the government’s decision.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan used an executive order in March to pull his country out of the Istanbul Convention, known formally as the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence. Since that decision, the executive order has faced legal challenges seeking to prevent the country’s withdrawal from the treaty.
Despite the court’s refusal to block Erdogan’s action, the president of the Federation of Turkish Women’s Associations, Canan Gullu, declared that the organization will “continue our struggle,” warning that “Turkey is shooting itself in the foot with this decision.”
The federation warned that quitting the treaty has made women and other vulnerable individuals reluctant to seek assistance, which, when combined with the Covid pandemic and economic difficulties in the country, has caused a rise in domestic violence.
Turkey’s president has rejected claims that exiting the agreement will risk the safety of vulnerable individuals, claiming that “withdrawal from the convention will not lead to any legal or practical shortcoming in the prevention of violence against women.”
The Istanbul Convention, which was agreed in 2011 and signed by 45 countries as well as the EU, committed the nations to work to prevent domestic abuse and promote equality within their borders. Turkey’s government claimed, however, that the agreement had been “hijacked” by individuals who were seeking to “normalize homosexuality,” making it incompatible with Ankara’s family values.
Prior to Thursday’s exit from the treaty, US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen condemned the move, arguing that “women deserve a strong legal framework to protect them.”
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