Turkey withdrew from the Istanbul Convention, the international treaty which aims to prevent violence against women, with a midnight decree announced on 19 March by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Bar associations and women’s organisations applied to the Council of State on the grounds that it is against the law to annul an international agreement with the decision of a single person. Although the convention is in force legally, police officers have stopped processing the complaints of women who are subjected to violence according to the treaty.
A debate was sparked within the country by some radical Islamist groups claiming that the Istanbul Convention aims to break the family structure in Turkey. Feminist Lawyer Meriç Eyüboğlu discussed the subject with Jin News, and said, “The family that they are trying to protect is the family in which women are raped, subjected to violence and even murdered.”, adding withdrawal from the conventiom meaned ignoring the society.
33 women were murdered by men after the annulment of the treaty
According to data provided by Jin News, 332 women were killed by men in 2020, and 110 women lost their lives in suspicious circumstances. While six women were murdered by men in the first week of 2021, 12 women were murdered by men in the seven days following the decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention. Overall, 33 women have been murdered by men since the annulment of the treaty.
Women respond in the streets
Protests against the withdrawal from the convention continue and women have taken to the streets since the announcement of the decision.
“The decision is giving courage to men. It is a message to them that they will not be punished if they murder women,” said Eyüboğlu.
“They claim that the treaty is breaking the family structure, but what kind of thing is that family? First of all, we are exposed to violence from our husbands, fathers, and men in the family. So this is what they call family, where we are raped, beaten, and killed. This is the family that they want to protect. Withdrawing from the contract after all this means more of us will die.”
‘Killing a woman is still a crime in Turkey’
Attorney Eyüboğlu also said that while Turkey has withdrawn from the treaty there are still laws in Turkey, such as law no. 6284, and murdering a person remains a crime in Turkey. “Maybe men heard the wrong message. They might think that nothing will happen to them if they kill women but there are still laws that protect women and we will continue to defend our rights till the end,” she said.