Living in a Western country has many advantages: you can work in whatever job you want regardless of your gender, get legal aid when you are a victim of a crime, use technology without any restrictions, even access gambling sites like GGBet casino without restrictions. In countries with a dominant Middle Eastern culture, doing all this can be a challenge in itself, especially if you are a woman. Even a convention signed to protect you can be suddenly canceled by a single person one day. This is exactly what happened to the Istanbul Convention. Turkey was the first country to sign the Istanbul Convention in 2011, which was prepared to prevent violence against women. However, 10 years later, it announced that it was withdrawing from this convention and the repercussions of this decision still continue in the country. So, what are the consequences of this decision in Turkey and other countries? Below, we answer this question for you.
First Things First: What Is Istanbul Convention?
In short, the Istanbul Convention aims to protect women from all kinds of violence and discrimination, to promote equality between women and men, to design a comprehensive framework, policies and measures for these purposes and to expand international cooperation on these issues. The Convention states that the parties agree that violence against women is a manifestation of the historically unequal power relations between men and women and that these power relations lead to the superiority of men over women, which resulted in preventing women from fully advancing.
In order to ensure that the provisions of the convention are implemented effectively, a monitoring and supervision committee called the “Group of Experts on Violence Against Women and Action Against Domestic Violence” (GREVIO) was established. The convention was named “Istanbul Convention” because it was signed on May 11, 2011, in İstanbul, and Turkey was the first country to sign it. And on March 20, 2021, Turkey became the first country to withdraw from it.
How Does Istanbul Convention Protects Women?
In the convention, the definition of “violence against women” includes all kinds of physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence, the threat of violence and discrimination, whether it occurs “in public or private life.” The convention defines “domestic violence” as “within the family or between current or previous spouses or individuals living together, whether or not they share the same residence with the victim.” It is stated that the contract can cover women under the age of 18.
The convention obliges the parties to take “all necessary measures” to prevent all kinds of acts of violence and discrimination and demands that activities to empower women to be widespread. While implementing the provisions of the convention, it is emphasized that discrimination cannot be made on the basis of “sexual orientation” as well as identifying characteristics such as “gender, race, color, language, religion, political or other opinions, marital status, immigrant or refugee status,” etc.
The parties are asked to allocate the necessary financial and human resources for the fulfillment of the provisions of the contract, as well as to support the work of non-governmental organizations that play an active role in the fight empowering women and to cooperate with these organizations. For example, Turkey has issued law No. 6284, and the provisions of the law were determined according to the principles set forth in this Convention.
Why Did Turkey Withdraw from Istanbul Convention?
Since 2019, some institutions, organizations and authors in Turkey have been calling for the withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention. For example, Hüda-Par, an Islamic political party, stated that “When the Istanbul Convention is examined in detail, it will be easily seen that it has a structure that destroys the basic dynamics of the society.” Şakir Tarım, a writer for an İslamic newspaper called “Milli Gazete,” said that the convention was “the biggest threat to Turkey’s survival”.
Ali Erkan Kavaklı, another writer for another Islamic newspaper, also said “Family is the institution where men and women can work together. There is no possibility to keep the family alive by taking the man away from home. Imported laws cannot keep the family alive. The contract should be canceled. Our religion and tradition can provide enough justice.” Simply put, Islamic circles in Turkey have never liked this convention for various rights given to women and the fact that it recognized the existence of LGBT people. President Erdogan was seen as a representative of liberal and moderate Islam in 2011 and therefore did not hesitate to sign the convention. Now, he is no different from some kind of dictator who is expected to lose the next elections and must fulfill the wishes of the conservatives to keep his voters together. For this reason, he even clearly states that LGBT individuals are “perverts.”
The Results of Turkey Withdrawing from Istanbul Convention
It would not be wrong to say that this decision will set an example for other conservative governments and countries. Poland, one of the countries that signed the convention, announced that it would officially initiate the withdrawal process from the contract in July 2020. In Hungary, the political declaration calling on the government not to sign the Istanbul Convention was adopted by the parliament in early May 2019. In other words, at least two more countries are expected to withdraw from the convention in 2021. This decision also led to various reactions in Turkey, but we can say that except for a few weak protests, nothing serious happened: it looks like Turkish women have been convicted of “learned helplessness.” While the Istanbul Convention was active, they were still killed by men, and nothing changed after the convention: in the last 65 days, 67 women were killed by men in Turkey.