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Explained: The European treaty on violence against women which Erdogan quit

Critics of Erdogan’s decision have said that the withdrawal from the pact would not only reduce Turkey’s chances to join the European Union but would also increase violence against women in the country, as per a report in Reuters.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan arrives for a meeting with EU Council President Charles Michel in Brussels, Belgium.(Reuters/ File photo)
Updated on Mar 20, 2021 11:58 AM IST
By | Edited by Mallika Soni, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan pulled the country out of the Council of Europe convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, also known as the Istanbul convention on Saturday. The country did not provide any reason for the withdrawal, but last year officials in Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK) said that the government had been considering pulling out of the accord. After the country's withdrawal, family, labour and social policies minister Zehra Zumrat said on Twitter, “The guarantee of women’s rights is the current regulations in our bylaws, primarily our Constitution. Our judicial system is dynamic and strong enough to implement new regulations as needed.”

What is the Istanbul convention?

The Istanbul convention is a human rights treaty which was opened for signature on May 11, 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey. The treaty, of which 44 countries and the European Union is a part, came into force on August 1, 2014. The convention, the first legally- binding instrument, creates a framework to combat violence against women which includes physical violence, psychological violence, stalking, sexual violence, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, forced abortion and sexual harassment as well.

What have Erdogan’s critics said?

The Opposition CHP party has criticised Erdogan for the move. Gokce Gokcen, deputy chairman of the CHP, tweeted that abandoning the treaty meant "keeping women second class citizens and letting them be killed."

Critics of Erdogan’s decision have said that the withdrawal from the pact would not only reduce Turkey’s chances to join the European Union but would also increase violence against women in the country, as per a report in Reuters. Turkey has remained a candidate to join the European Union since 2005. On the other hand, World Health Organisation's (WHO) data showed that 38 per cent of women in Turkey are subject to violence from a partner in their lifetime, Reuters added in its report.

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Is Turkey the first country to take this step?

No, other countries have also taken similar steps with regards to the convention. In 2018, Bulgaria adopted a proposal to ratify the convention but was postponed after widespread backlash. In 2020, Slovakia rejected the convention and pulled out of it. In 2020, both Poland and Hungary also said that they would withdraw from the treaty.

(with agency inputs)

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