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‘It encourages divorce’: Turkey quits European treaty on violence against women claiming ‘protecting traditional social fabric’ will protect women

The Turkish government claims that the convention undermines family structures, encourages violence and divorce.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to pull out of an internationally binding treaty that prevents violence against women has prompted massive protests in Turkey and has received condemnation from major powers. According to the reports, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pulled Turkey out 2011 Istanbul Convention that pledged to prevent, prosecute and eliminate domestic violence and promote equality.

The 2011 Istanbul Convention, widely regarded as the gold standard in international efforts to protect women and girls from violence, was signed by 45 countries and the European Union. Turkey had signed it in 2011, but violence has surged in the country in recent years.

The treaty requires governments to adopt legislation criminalising domestic violence as well as marital rape and female genital mutilation.

The Turkish government has not provided any reason for the withdrawal. It announced the decision to pull from the treaty in the early hours on Saturday. However, the top government officials said the domestic law would protect women’s rights rather than an international treaty.

Why did Turkey withdraw?

Reportedly, the Turkish government decision to withdraw from the treaty comes at the backdrop of growing fundamentalism in the Islamic country. The move is being depicted as the latest victory for conservatives in Erdogan’s nationalist party and their allies in Turkey.

The Turkish government claims that the convention undermines family structures, encourages violence and divorce. Besides, the LGBT community uses the references in the treaty for demanding equal rights and broader acceptance in the society, which has caused a major worry for the Turkish conservative government.

The Istanbul Convention states that men and women have equal rights and obliges state authorities to take steps to prevent gender-based violence against women, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators.

“Preserving our traditional social fabric” will protect the dignity of Turkish women, Vice President Fuat Oktay said. “For this sublime purpose, there is no need to seek the remedy outside or to imitate others,” he added.

Protests erupt in Turkey, women’s group demand roll back in decision

Meanwhile, thousands are protesting in Turkey, demanding President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to reverse his decision to withdraw from the world’s first binding treaty to prevent and combat violence against women.

The overnight decision to annul from the ratification of the Istanbul Convention is a blow to women’s rights advocates, said women protestors who assembled on the streets of Istanbul on Saturday. Hundreds of women gathered in Istanbul to protest against the decision on Saturday.

Several women’s groups protested to keep the convention intact immediately. They called for protests across the country on Saturday under the slogan “Withdraw the decision, implement the treaty”. According to the protestors, their years-long struggle would not be erased in one night.

Turkey’s decision to pull out of the Istanbul treaty has also not gone well within the international community. The Council of Europe’s Secretary-General, Marija Pejčinović Burić, called the decision “devastating.”

“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,” she said.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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