Turkey withdraws from Women s Rights Treaty

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has withdrawn Turkey from an international Women s Rights Convention aimed at tackling violence against women and promoting emancipation.

The decision was published on Saturday in the Turkish state newspaper. Action leaders warn that the Pact is crucial to reducing the increasing number of cases of domestic violence in Turkey.

The treaty, also known as the Istanbul-Convention, was signed by Turkey in 2011. Ankara has not given any explanation for the cancellation. Erdogan AK party officials said last year that the government was considering withdrawing from the agreement. Then there was a political conflict about how domestic violence should be reduced.

The content of the agreement has been criticizing from a conservative point of view for a long time. For example, it would detract from Turkish standards and values about family and thereby promote violence. Critics also believe that the principle of gender equality in the treaty promotes homosexuality.

President Erdogan has previously condemned violence against women, and this month said that his government wants to completely eliminate such violence. But critics believe that the government has not done enough about this since 2011. Nor would the denunciation of the Pact do the Turkish candidacy for accession to the European Union, say opponents.

Partner Violence

Turkey does not keep official figures of violence directed against women. According to the World Health Organisation, 38 per cent of Turkish women in their lives suffer from violence from a partner. In Europe, that is about 25%.

Moreover, Turkey is not the only country in which the pact is under discussion. In Poland, too, there have been votes within the government to cancel it. Last year, the government had to check whether the treaty is contrary to the Polish constitution.