Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that from now on, women in Turkey should react negatively to people who start their sentence with ‘the Istanbul Convention,’ local media reported on Monday.
On March 20 Erdoğan pulled Turkey out of the Council of Europe (CoE) Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention, an international accord designed to protect women’s rights and prevent domestic violence in societies, despite high statistics of violence targeting women in the country and drawing condemnation from Turks and the international community.
“From now on, our women should react against whoever utters a sentence that starts with ‘the Istanbul Convention,’ first and foremost, and because those people abuse them for the sake of their deviant ideological agenda,” Erdoğan said on Monday after a cabinet meeting in Ankara.
The president’s remarks came soon after Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), on Nov. 7 promised in a video on Twitter to reinforce the Istanbul Convention within the first week after they take office, if they win the general election scheduled for 2023.
Erdoğan’s comments were criticized by many social media users and women’s associations, who expressed their reactions under the hashtags #istanbulsözleşmesi (Istanbul Convention) and #istanbulsözleşmesiyaşatır (Istanbul Convention stays alive.)
“You cannot defame the struggle of women, who have taken it upon themselves to keep alive the women you have failed to protect,” We Will Stop Femicides Platform said in a tweet, addressing Erdoğan.
One Twitter user said: “Feminism isn’t a deviant ideology. There are no ‘your women,’ there are only ‘women.’”
Turkey, the first member state to ratify the CoE convention, which was opened for signature in İstanbul during Turkey’s chairmanship of the organization 10 years ago, ironically also became the first state to announce its withdrawal from it.
World leaders, including US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, international and regional organizations and rights groups have reacted negatively to Turkey’s decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention.
Femicides and violence against women are serious problems in Turkey, where women get killed, raped or beaten every day. Many critics say the main reason behind the situation is the policies of the AKP government, which protects violent and abusive men by granting them impunity.