President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has withdrawn Turkey from an international treaty on preventing violence against women and removed the head of the Central Bank. Forty- five countries that are members of the Council of Europe have been signatories of the Istanbul Convention which had pledged to condemn any violence on the women. It has also recognized how violence on women over the centuries has been a product of the disparate relationship shared between men and women which has been defined by dominance in most cases.
The Council of Europe accord, forged in Istanbul, pledged to prevent, prosecute and eliminate domestic violence and promote equality. Turkey, which signed the accord in 2011, saw a rise in femicides last year. However, no reason was provided for the withdrawal, but officials in Erdogan’s ruling AK Party had said last year the government was considering pulling out amid a row over how to curb growing violence against women.
Family, Labour and Social Policies Minister Zehra Zumrut said on Twitter that, “The guarantee of women’s rights are the current regulations in our bylaws, primarily our Constitution. Our judicial system is dynamic and strong enough to implement new regulations as needed.” He did not provide a reason for this move.
Nevertheless, the Conservatives are hostile to the principle of gender equality in the Istanbul Convention and see it as promoting homosexuality, given its principle of non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. They endorse women’s role in the private sphere and this move will please the Conservatives.
Critics of the withdrawal from the pact have said it would put Turkey further out of step with the values of the European Union, which it remains a candidate to join. They argue the deal, and legislation approved in its wake, need to be implemented more stringently. Mr. Erdogan had floated the idea of withdrawing from the treaty, known as the Istanbul Convention, for more than a year as he courted conservative and nationalist followers to shore up his flagging popularity.
Women’s groups immediately announced a protest rally on Saturday afternoon. Mr. Erdogan has steadily concentrated more authority into his own hands over his 18 years in power. His latest actions, overnight between Friday and Saturday, came amid a flurry of attacks on political opponents that seem intended to solidify his political base. It has been predicted that 2300 femicides have occurred in Turkey since 2010.
However, Erdogan has condemned violence against women, including saying this month that his government would work to eradicate violence against women. But critics argue that his government has not done enough to prevent femicides and domestic violence. Turkey does not keep official statistics on femicide. On the other hand, World Health Organization data has shown 38% of women in Turkey are subject to violence from a partner in their lifetime, compared to about 25% in Europe.