Turkey Withdraws From International Treaty Aimed at Protecting Women From Violence

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a presidential decree last March 20 to withdraw Turkey from an international treaty aimed at protecting women from violence, sparking criticisms from women’s rights advocates and European leaders.

Turkey has quit the landmark Istanbul Convention, claiming that it harms traditional family values and that it had been “hijacked” by people attempting to “normalize homosexuality.”

“The guarantee of women’s rights are present in our current laws and especially in our constitution. Our judicial system is dynamic and strong enough to implement new regulations as needed,” Family and Social Policies Minister Zehra Zumrut Selcuk stated on Twitter to assure Turkish citizens that the withdrawal from the treaty did not indicate a backslide on regulations on violence against women.

However, thousands gathered in large protests against the withdrawal, claiming that the treaty was crucial in fighting against domestic violence in Turkey.

Council of Europe Secretary-General Marija Pejčinović Burić called the withdrawal “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,” Burić said in a statement.

European Union Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said in a statement that the withdrawal “risks compromising the protection and fundamental rights of women and girls in Turkey. It also sends a dangerous message across the world.”

“We therefore cannot but urge Turkey to reverse its decision,” Borrell added.

United States President Joe Biden also condemned the withdrawal, describing it as “a disheartening step backward for the international movement to end violence against women globally.”

“Countries should be working to strengthen and renew their commitments to ending violence against women, not rejecting international treaties designed to protect women and hold abusers accountable,” Biden said in a statement.

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