“Turkey’s Presidential Decree published on 20 March announcing the withdrawal from the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence is an ill-advised decision. It undermines women’s rights and sends the wrong signal to all women in Turkey and beyond” said the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović. “At a time when femicide and other forms of violence against women are on the rise in the country, Turkey should not step back and reduce its tools to fight against this scourge”.
Turkey ratified the so-called Istanbul Convention, as it was opened for signature in this city, in 2012. This treaty is a unique legal instrument to tackle violence against women. It covers not only domestic violence but other forms of violence against women including psychological and physical abuse, sexual harassment, rape, crimes committed in the name of so-called “honour”, stalking, and forced marriage. The Convention requires states to implement a comprehensive array of practical measures to prevent violence against women, to protect the victims and to prosecute the perpetrators. It also creates a specific independent monitoring mechanism, the GREVIO, in order to ensure the effective implementation of its provisions by the States Parties. Importantly, the Convention sends out a powerful signal to society that domestic violence can never be considered a private or a family matter; it is a human rights violation and should be of concern to society as a whole.
The decision to ratify the Convention was adopted unanimously by the Turkish Parliament and the text is supported by all women’s rights defenders in Turkey who have demonstrated across the country to call for its full implementation. I call on the Turkish authorities to listen to their voices and reconsider the decision to withdraw from the Convention. Doing so would show Turkey’s continued and genuine commitment to protecting women from violence.
I express my full support to all women in Turkey and beyond. They can count on me to defend their rights and push for ratification and implementation of the Istanbul Convention. This treaty is now ratified by 34 Council of Europe member states and we should aim at prompt ratification by all 13 other member states. There is an urgent need to stop the growing efforts to obstruct the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, or to call for pulling out from it, by deliberately spreading false narratives about it. I will keep raising the issue with member states to overcome these political manipulations and unfounded criticism vis-à-vis this landmark text and guarantee all European women the right to live a life free from violence in the 21st century.”