U.S. President Joe Biden said he was “deeply disappointed” Sunday after Turkey left the Istanbul Convention, the world’s first binding treaty to prevent and combat violence against women.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government announced on Saturday that they would be withdrawing from the Istanbul Convention, a move heavily supported by conservatives in Erdogan’s nationalist party and their allies who believed the treaty damaged family unity.
However, while the move was championed by Erdogan’s nationalist party, thousands in Turkey began protesting Erdogan’s decision.
“This is a disheartening step backward for the international movement to end violence against women globally,” Biden said in a statement from the White House, adding that the “sudden and unwarranted” move from Erdogan was “deeply disappointing.”
Biden continued, saying, “Gender-based violence is a scourge that touches every nation in every corner of the world. In the past few weeks, we’ve seen too many examples of horrific and brutal assaults on women, including the tragic murders in Georgia And we’ve seen the broader damage that living under the daily specter of gender-based violence does to women everywhere. It hurts all of us, and we all must do more to create societies where women are able to go about their lives free from violence.”
The 2011 Istanbul Convention, which has been signed by 45 countries and the European Union (with Turkey being its first signatory), requires governments to adopt legislation prosecuting domestic violence and similar abuse, as well as marital rape and female genital mutilation.
European leaders have also condemned Turkey’s decision to withdraw from the convention. On Saturday, protesters in Istanbul held up portraits of women murdered in Turkey, one reading, “It is women who will win this war.”
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