Femicide rates in Turkey have been increasing every day. Several political commentators have argued that Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention places women in further danger.
Turkey was the first state to ratify the Istanbul Convention in parliament in 2012. The Convention
is the first legally-binding instrument which has created a comprehensive legal framework and approach to combat violence against women, prosecute offenders, prevent domestic violence and protect victims of such violence.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan decided to annul the Istanbul Convention using a presidential decree at midnight. State officials had argued that ”the convention undermined traditional family values” and ”encouraged homosexuality in society” and in this proffered context had justified their decision to pull out of the Convention.
There has been an increase in harassment, rape and suspicious deaths of women, according to the women’s rights organisation figures in the two months that have passed since Turkey’s withdrawal from the Convention, MA reports.
In the first month after the withdrawal from the Convention, 29 women were murdered and one woman died suspiciously. In the second month (April 20 and May 20), eleven women were murdered, 20 women suspiciously died and five women were seriously injured. Harassment, rape and violence against women has continued at alarming levels.
According to a report by the We Will Stop Femicide Platform, in April, 16 women were murdered and 14 women died suspiciously. Women’s rights activists and 78 bar associations have issued a joint statement which has emphasized that the withdrawal leaves women unprotected and places them in greater danger.
‘The Apply the Istanbul Convention Campaign Group has announced that a women’s protest will be held in Istanbul on Friday 21 May. ‘
‘I trust the resistance of women, and their struggle, so that their rights are not taken away from them”, feminist lawyer Canan Arın told Jin News. ”The contract is still valid. Patriarchy has begun to shake from its roots”.
After the decision to withdraw from the Convention led to heated discussions and debates over the matter nationally and internationally, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) made attempts to debate the matter with the Venice Commission and Turkey’s decision to withdraw from the Convention was discussed as an “urgent agenda”.
Whilst debates regarding the termination of the contract have continued, the ‘Violence Against Women Investigation Commission’ convened in parliament for the first time. However, several women’s organisations and activists reacted to this development by stating that new commissions mean nothing but act as a ‘distraction’ to real and pressing concerns.