Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan pulled out of an international agreement designed to protect women, the country’s official record said Saturday, despite calls from protesters who see the treaty as a primary means of combating domestic violence.
The Council of Europe, created in Istanbul, has pledged to prevent, prosecute and eradicate domestic violence and promote equality. Turkey, which signed the treaty in 2011, saw an increase in femicides last year.
No reason was given for their withdrawal, but officials in Erdogan’s AK Party ruling last year said the government was considering a withdrawal amid a series on how they can prevent it. put to violence against women.
Many conservatives in Turkey say the agreement weakens family structures, incites violence. They are also hostile to the principle of gender equality in the Istanbul Convention and see it as promoting homosexuality, due to its principle of non-discrimination due to sexual orientation.
Critics of the withdrawal from the treaty have said it would further put Turkey out of the values of the European Union, which it remains a candidate to join. They argue the deal, and legislation passed as a result, needs to be enforced more rigorously.
Turkey is not the first country to move towards condemning the treaty. Poland’s highest court has scrutinized the deal after a cabinet member said Warsaw should abandon the treaty the national government considers too liberal.
Turkey does not keep official statistics on femicide. World Health Organization data have shown that 38% of women in Turkey are subject to lifelong partner violence, compared to around 25% in Europe.
Ankara has taken steps such as selecting individuals known to use violence and creating a smartphone app for women to alert police, which has been downloaded by hundreds of thousands of times.