Turkey rebuffs criticisms over exit from Istanbul Convention
Turkey has rebuffed criticisms from the West over its decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, a pact designed to counter violence against women.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry said on March 21 that withdrawal from the convention should not be regarded as a concession on the fight against violence against women.
“Women’s rights in the national legislation of the Republic of Turkey are safeguarded by the most advanced norms,” the ministry said in a written statement.
Turkey has stood by women in advancing their rights, strengthening their social role and protecting them against violence, the ministry said.
Acknowledging that “the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence is a convention prepared with the main purpose of combating violence against women,” the ministry said that however, “the elements of the convention and various practices created sensitivity in public and caused criticism.”
Pointing out the “discussions in many countries within the Council of Europe regarding the convention,” the ministry said, “Some countries that have signed the convention have refrained from ratifying it.”
Turkey will continue to take all necessary measures to strengthen women’s rights with the understanding of zero tolerance of violence against women, it said.
Likewise, the Presidential Communications Directorate on March 21 stressed that Turkey made the decision due to the manipulative actions of some groups to use the convention to promote homosexuality and other trends that violate Turkey’s values.
The directorate said the convention’s original intention of promoting women’s rights “was hijacked by a group of people attempting to normalize homosexuality” and that it is incompatible with Turkey’s social and family values.
Highlighting that Turkey was not the only country with “serious concerns” about the convention, it said that six members of the EU, namely Bulgaria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia, also have not ratified the treaty.
The statements came after senior U.S. and European officials voiced regret over Turkey’s decision to withdraw from the treaty.
U.S. President Joe Biden said that Turkey’s decision was “deeply
In a written statement on March 21, he said there was an increase in the number of domestic violence incidents around the world, including Turkey, and stressed that countries should work together to end violence against women.
“This is a disheartening step backward for the international movement to end violence against women globally,” Biden added.
Stating that everybody should oppose gender-based violence and recalling recent cases of femicide in Georgia, he said, “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.”
EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said: “We cannot but regret deeply and express incomprehension towards the decision of the Turkish government to withdraw from this convention that even bears the name of Istanbul.” He called on Turkey to reverse the decision.
Meanwhile, Heiko Maas, Germany’s foreign minister and chair of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, as well as Rik Daems, the president of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, issued a joint statement on Turkey’s announced withdrawal.
Maas and Daems said they “deeply regret the decision” to quit the Istanbul Convention.
“We recall that the purpose of the Convention is to prevent violence against women, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators. It upholds women’s fundamental human right to a life free from violence,” the statement said.