Erdoğan’s far-right ally backs Turkey’s exit from women’s rights treaty

The leader of Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on Tuesday expressed support over the government’s withdrawal from a European treaty aimed at protecting women’s rights,Dünya newspaper reported.

The Istanbul Convention has failed in meeting the needs of the country, Devlet Bahçeli said during a MHP parliamentary meeting, adding that the discussion around Turkey’s exit from the pact had reached a “regrettable” dimension.

Earlier this month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pulled Turkey out of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention, with an overnight executive order, in a move that has been met with international condemnation and protests across the country.

Turkey was one of the first signatories of the treaty aimed at preventing violence against women, and Turkish advocacy groups worked extensively on the text itself.

The convention was inspired in part by the fate of two Turkish women, Nahide Opuz and Ayşe Paşalı, who had both sought protection of authorities numerous times but were eventually killed by their husbands.

“Just as it is a legal right to sign the treaty and become a party to it, so is exiting it as a signatory country,” Bahçeli said. “Withdrawal from the agreement is a correct and apt move.”

The MHP leader went on to blast the country’s opposition for condemning Turkey’s exit from the treaty, saying the Republican People’s Party (CHP) was reducing women’s rights to the Istanbul Convention in a bid to misconstrue the issue.

The CHP has been among the most outspoken critics of Ankara’s withdrawal from the treaty and this week took the move to Turkey’s top court.

A total of 38 percent of women in Turkey experience violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime, compared with 25 percent in Europe, according to World Health Organization data.

While there are no official figures for femicide rates in the country, the numbers have roughly tripled over the past decade.

Advocacy group We Will Stop Femicides recorded a total of 300 femicides in 2020, while another 171 women were found dead under suspicious circumstances.