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US voices disappointment about Turkey’s withdrawal from Istanbul Convention

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The United States has expressed disappointment about Turkey’s withdrawal from an international treaty to combat violence against women, a move that has drawn condemnation from many Turks and rights groups, prompting protests across the country.

The Istanbul Convention, negotiated in Turkey’s largest city and opened for signature in 2011, had as of 2019 been signed by 45 countries and the European Union, committing its signatories to preventing and prosecuting domestic violence and promoting equality.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sparked outrage in March by pulling out from the treaty, a decision that formally came into force on July 1.

“Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention is deeply disappointing and a step backward for the international effort to end violence against women. We urge all states to strengthen their prevention of and response to all forms of gender-based violence,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price tweeted on Thursday.

Women’s rights groups accuse Ankara of withdrawing from the treaty to appease conservatives at a time when Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is recording lower levels of support.

A survey conducted by Metropoll has revealed that 52.3 percent of Turks are against the government’s decision to withdraw from the convention.

Gender-based violence is a serious problem in Turkey. According to a report published earlier by Sezgin Tanrıkulu, a human rights defender and Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker, nearly 7,000 women have been victims of femicide during the 18 years that the AKP has been in power.

Despite the alarming data, Turkey withdrew from the convention instead of working for its better implementation because Turkish conservatives claimed the charter damaged family unity, encouraged divorce and that its references to equality were being used by the LGBT community to gain broader acceptance in society.

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