March 21, 2021


Turkey withdraws from an International Treaty

Early on Saturday morning, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made national news for all the wrong reasons. He withdrew Turkey from an international treaty to protect women. In a time where equality is a center of attention throughout the world, this move by Erdogan could not have come at a worse time.

He withdrew from the agreement through a presidential decree early on Saturday morning. It is unclear why he did this, but women throughout Turkey and the world are fuming over the situation.

Turkey has seen a lot of violence against women over the years. With COVID-19, the situation has gotten worse for women in Turkey and around the world. With lockdowns in place, domestic abuse has skyrocketed in Turkey.

The Agreement and Turkey

The international treaty that Erdogan backed out of was titled the Council of Europe Convention. It was originally an agreement put into place in 2011 to prevent and combat violence against women throughout the world. Turkey was the first country to sign the council of Europe Convention, and because of this, it was nicknamed the Istanbul convention.

Istanbul is the capital of Turkey and the largest city in the country, where many domestic abuse cases have occurred in recent years.

When people in Turkey woke up and found out that President Erdogan had removed the country from the agreement, many people took to social media to state their disapproval. Turkish women’s rights defenders have been at the forefront of the complaints toward President Erdogan.

However, removing the country from the treaty has also received some support from traditionally-minded citizens. President Erdogan’s conservative ideologies have caused people to accuse him of pulling Turkey because the treaty ruins the traditional family structure in the country.

This decision is not correct in many citizens’ minds because it is putting women’s lives on the line without any added form of protection. The treaty had caused a lot of problems in Turkey before President Erdogan made the decision on Saturday.

Community Response and Backlash

Religious and conservative groups began lobbying the government to show their disapproval of the Council of Europe convention. They said that it ruined traditional values and it gave rights to the LGBTQ community.

President Erdogan has not publicly stated why he backed out of the treaty. Despite this, his cabinet has spoken publicly about the action by Erdogan on early Saturday morning. They tried to tell people that Turkey would not take a step backward on women’s rights in the country.

Family and Social Policies Minister Zehra Zumcrut Selcuk said, “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.”

The opposition group in Turkey did not agree with this stance. They made it clear that the Turkish government is removing women’s rights and failing to protect lives that will be lost because of the removal from the Council of Europe Convention.

There have already been 77 women killed in 2021 because of assault and domestic abuse. This decision to back out of the international treaty will create a lot of ongoing backlash in the coming months.

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