22 March 2021
The Socialist International is extremely concerned by the announced decision of Turkey to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, through a decree issued by President Erdoǧan. This unilateral act, apparently in violation of the Turkish constitution, is a significant setback for women’s rights in Turkey and a deep symbolic blow to the ongoing struggle for women’s rights across Europe and the world. The SI expresses its solidarity with all 42 million women in Turkey, whose human rights are threatened by this reckless and unacceptable action.
The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, commonly known as the Istanbul Convention, came into existence a decade ago with the aim of preventing violence, protecting victims and ending the impunity of those who perpetrate violence against women. Turkey was the first country to ratify the treaty, which bears the name of its largest city, following its unanimous adoption by the parliament. Violence against women is a violation of human rights, and the convention makes it the responsibility of states to prevent domestic violence, protect victims and prosecute accused offenders.
As Turkey signals its withdrawal from the convention, levels of violence against women are increasing. The last decade has tragically seen a rapid rise in femicide in Turkey to three times previous levels, which is an unacceptable development that needs urgently addressing. In this context, withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention is the precise opposite of what is required from their government by the women of Turkey and is tantamount to a direct attack on the rights of women by an increasingly authoritarian and conservative regime.
The Socialist International calls on President Erdoǧan and the government of Turkey to reverse the ill-advised, illegitimate and damaging decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention. At a time when all governments must do more to bring an end to the scourge of gender-based violence, there is no justification for regressive steps such as those announced in Turkey. The SI offers its full support to the CHP, member party of the SI in Turkey, in its efforts to defend the rights of women and ensure that Turkey remain in the convention.