Turkish women rise up against Istanbul Convention withdrawal

Women in Turkey have geared up efforts as the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials discuss the country's withdrawal from a council of Europe human rights treaty against domestic and gender-based violence, analyst Arzu Geybullayeva said in an article for the Global voices on Wednesday.

Women rights organisations have been calling for demonstrations across Turkey against proposed withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, widely seen as the most powerful global compact to combat violence against women, to which Turkey was the first signatory, in 2011. Islamist Turks have been lobbying the government for more than a year to pull out of the convention, which they argue empowers LGBTI groups and threatens the family, while more liberal-minded Turks have embraced the #womenempoweringwomen hashtag to protest the move and stand against femicide in Turkey. 

"But the overwhelming public outcry seems to have made an impression on the AKP—a decision that was meant to be announced in early August has been postponed," Geybullayeva said.

"Not everyone within the ruling party is in favour of withdrawal," she added, citing a statement by the Women and Democracy Platform (Kadem), an organization co-founded by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's daughter Sümeyye Erdoğan in 2013, that publicly defended Turkey's membership in the treaty.

The number of Turkish women who have suffered violence has increased 50 percent, from 145,000 in 2015 to nearly 220,000 in 2018, according to Interior Ministry data. Just this year, domestic abuse has surged as much as a third during the coronavirus pandemic, as countless women have been stuck at home with potentially violent partners.