US, EU must warn Turkey of severe consequences for Istanbul Convention withdrawal

The European Union and United States must warn Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of severe consequences should he fail to reverse a decision withdrawing Turkey from an international convention to combat violence against women, analyst Alon Ben-Meir wrote for the Jerusalem Post on Monday.

“It’s hard to find something more scornful than Erdogan’s sudden decision to withdraw Turkey,” Ben-Meir said.

The Council of Europe document is better known as the Istanbul Convention, named after the Turkish city where it was signed in 2011.

The Turkish president should “suffer severe economic sanctions, be denied an audience with any Western leader, be prohibited from participating in any future NATO exercises, and be excluded from intelligence-sharing” if he does not reverse the decision, Ben-Meir said.

Such a stance would send a positive message to Turkish women, whose courage to hold street protests last week should be applauded, he said.

“Every man and woman of conscience must raise their voices to condemn this ruthless dictator who seeks to assert his insecure masculinity by denying women’s rights,” Ben-Meir said.

Erdoğan “willingly succumbed to the whims of a minority of bigoted Islamist men”, he said.

According to a July study by leading Turkish pollster Metropoll, 63.6 percent of Turks are opposed to pulling out of the convention, while 17 percent explicitly support it.

At least 38 percent of women who have been married in Turkey have been subjected to violence from an intimate partner, Ben-Meir said. According to activist-run project Anıt Sayaç, 409 women were killed by men in Turkey in 2020, most of them intimate partners, and 2021 has seen 118 murders.

Ben-Meir said that the withdrawal was “a continuation of (Erdoğan’s) brutal rampage and purges against his own people”.