The Government of Turkey has rejected international criticism of its withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention on the Rights of Women and has maintained that “it has always been on the side of women in advancing their rights, strengthening their role in society and protecting them against violence”.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry has indicated in a statement that the Istanbul Convention “was prepared with the main objective of combating violence against women”, although it has stressed that “elements of its content and various practices have created sensitivity in public opinion and have caused criticism”.
“In fact, within the Council of Europe there is criticism of the convention from many countries”, he pointed out, before adding that “some countries that signed the convention have avoided ratifying it”. Thus, it has argued that its withdrawal “should not be interpreted as a step backwards in the fight against violence against women”.
In this sense, the Ministry has stressed that “women’s rights are guaranteed by Turkey’s national legislation with the most advanced standards”, while noting that the country “will continue to pursue a zero tolerance stance towards violence against women”.
Finally, she stressed that the Turkish government “will take all necessary measures, in cooperation with authorities and institutions, in order to strengthen women’s rights and fight more effectively against violence against women”.
This convention integrated more than 40 countries and was signed by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2011, when he was Prime Minister. Following the announcement, hundreds of people demonstrated in Istanbul, Ankara and other Turkish cities in rejection of the decision.
Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic called Turkey’s withdrawal from the convention, “widely regarded as the standard in international efforts to protect women and girls from the violence they face every day in our societies,” “devastating.”
Also the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Policy and Common Security, Josep Borrell, regretted “deeply” and showed the “incomprehension” of the bloc towards the decision of the Turkish Government to withdraw from this convention”.
For his part, the President of the United States, Joe Biden, on Sunday rejected Turkey’s “sudden and unjustified” withdrawal from the convention, which he described as a “discouraging step backwards” in the fight against violence against women.