Turkish Minute

‘Game of Thrones’ author voices support for women in Turkey over Istanbul Convention exit

US novelist George R. R. Martin poses with the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series "Game Of Thrones" during the 71st Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles on September 22, 2019. Robyn Beck / AFP

George R.R. Martin, the best-selling fantasy author whose books were turned into HBO’s Emmy Award-winning hit series “Game of Thrones,” expressed support for women in Turkey in his blog after hearing the “distressing news” that the country has officially withdrawn from an international treaty designed to protect women’s rights and prevent domestic violence commonly known as the Istanbul Convention.

The author said in a March 28 blog entry titled “Violence in Turkey” that he recently received an e-mail from Sibel Kekilli – a German actress of Turkish descent who plays the role of Shae in “Game of Thrones” – informing him about Turkey’s withdrawal from the landmark treaty protecting women from violence.

He added that Kekilli has “first-hand knowledge of what it means to experience violence”  and has long been an advocate fighting violence against women all around the world.

“Sibel is not only an amazing actress, but a very brave woman, and a true hero. I admire her immensely for all she has done, and continues to do. And I would like to echo her message to the women and girls of Turkey: Selam Ve Sevgiler. (Greetings and best regards.) Stay strong,” Martin said.

The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention, is an international accord designed to protect women’s rights and prevent domestic violence in societies and was signed by member countries of the Council of Europe in 2011.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sparked outrage in Turkey and the international community after he issued the decree on March 20 that pulled the country out of the international treaty, which requires governments to adopt legislation prosecuting domestic violence and similar abuse as well as marital rape and female genital mutilation.

Following Erdoğan’s decision, some lawyers claimed that the treaty was still in force, arguing that the president could not withdraw from it without the approval of parliament, which unanimously ratified the convention in 2012.

Violence against women and femicide are serious problems in Turkey, with daily media coverage of the issue.

In 2020, 300 women were murdered and the rate shows no sign of slowing with 87 women killed so far this year, according to the women’s rights group We Will Stop Femicide Platform.

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