Turkey's withdrawal from convention concerns Europe
The Council of Europe and leaders of some European countries expressed concern on March 20 for Turkey's withdrawal from a European treaty on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
"Turkey‘s announced withdrawal from the Council of Europe‘s Istanbul Convention on violence against women is devastating news," said Marija Pejcinovic Buric, secretary-general of the Council of Europe, in a statement.
Noting that the Convention covers 34 European countries, she said it is regarded as the gold standard in international efforts to protect women and girls from the violence that they face every day.
"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," said Buric.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Twitter that he deplored the decision. "This decline in rights is worrying."
Germany's Foreign Office also issued a statement on Turkey's withdrawal, saying the move "sends the wrong signal to Europe and to women in Turkey."
Noting that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recently presented a human rights action plan that also deals with combating domestic violence and violence against women, it said the termination of the convention raises questions on the plan's goals.
Meanwhile, thousands protested on March 20 calling for Erdoğan to reverse his decision to withdraw from the treaty.
"Reverse your decision, apply the treaty!" chanted thousands of people during a protest in Istanbul's Kadıköy neighborhood on March 20.
Turkish officials hail withdrawal from treaty
Turkish officials on March 20 voiced support for a decision to withdraw from a European treaty on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
Vice President Fuat Oktay took to social media to praise the decision.
“We are determined to carry our sincere struggle to raise the reputation and dignity of Turkish women to the levels they deserve in the society, by preserving our traditional social fabric,” Oktay wrote on Twitter. “There is no need to seek the remedy outside, to imitate others. The solution is in our traditions and customs, in our essence.”
Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu also released a statement.
“Existence or absence of international conventions does not reduce or increase our responsibilities to prevent any form of crime that our citizens will face and our work as a requirement of this responsibility,” wrote Soylu.
He noted that every sovereign state has the right to leave the party as well as become a party to international treaties and agreements.
Communications Director Fahrettin Altun also supported the decision.
“Our government will work with all its might to end violence against women and to further strengthen women's place in social life,” he said in a statement.
Turkey was the first country to ratify the European convention adopted in Istanbul in 2011.
The convention seeks to prevent violence against women, including domestic violence, and bring an end to legal impunity for perpetrators.
While the convention was enforced in 34 countries, including Turkey, some countries - Ukraine, the U.K., Czechia, Slovakia, Moldova, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Latvia, Hungary, Armenia, and Bulgaria - signed the document but have yet to ratify.
The EU signed the convention on June 13, 2017, while Council of Europe members Russia and Azerbaijan did not.