Reem Alsalem, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women and Girls, called on Turkey to reconsider its 2021 withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, a key document on combatting violence against women, in a 10-day visit to the country that ended on Wednesday.
The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention after the city it was signed in, has enjoyed “strong and sustained support” by women’s rights advocates and the majority of Turkey’s citizens, Alsalem said, expressing “profound regret” on the withdrawal which was finalised on 19 July.
Alsalem said the infringement of the rights of women and girls in Turkey, including those who are lesbian, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI), women’s rights advocates, and Kurdish and Kurdish speaking women, have been “alarming”.
According to the rapporteur, amendments to Turkey’s terrorism financing laws have significantly impacted the ability of women’s NGOs to function.
The withdrawal has “not only hindered advancements but also created confusion as to the legality and continued applicability of key provisions in the Law to Protect Family and Prevent Violence against Women (Law 6284) that were based on the Istanbul Convention”, Alsalem said.
“Given the prevalence of violence against women and girls, I urge the Government of Türkiye to reconsider its decision to pull out of the Convention,” she continued.
The legal confusion has also emboldened perpetrators and left victims at increased risk of violence, she said.
Before her visit, Alsalem issued an open call for contributions on matters related to violence against women and girls, including women of diverse sexual orientations, non-Turkish ethnic origin or legal status, trafficking victims, and women journalists.
Her full report will be presented to the Human Rights Council in June 2023.