Women protest as Turkey signs a treaty prohibiting violence against women

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Thousands of people went to the streets of Turkey’s major cities on Thursday to protest the country’s decision to withdraw from an international treaty aimed at combating violence against women, a move that has enraged Western allies.

The demonstrations took place just hours after President Tayyip Erdogan justified Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, which was negotiated in Turkey’s largest city in 2011 and is aimed at preventing and prosecuting violence against women and domestic abuse.

“We will not be hushed, we will not be afraid, we will not bow down,” women sang as a gathering of several hundred gathered in Ankara, Turkey’s capital. A big purple banner said, “We are not giving up on the Istanbul Convention.”

“I find it incredible that the government is robbing people of their rights rather than enhancing them. Every day, we wake up to a femicide or a trans murder, and as women, we cannot feel secure in this nation “Ozgul, a 26-year-old student, agreed.

More than 1,000 people, primarily women, marched in central Istanbul amid significant police presence, while smaller protests were held in the Aegean city of Izmir and elsewhere around the nation.

Erdogan announced the withdrawal in March, saying Turkey will utilize local laws to protect women’s rights. On Thursday, he defended his decision against critics who called it a “step backwards” in the fight against domestic abuse.

“Our fight did not begin with the Istanbul Convention and will not conclude with our departure from it,” he added.

The United States and the European Union also condemned Ankara’s withdrawal, and opponents believe it places Turkey further further behind the European Union, which it asked to join in 1987.

This week, a judicial challenge to the withdrawal was dismissed.

On Thursday, three opposition parties withdrew from a parliamentary panel in protest of the decision.

On Wednesday, Canan Gullu, head of the Federation of Turkish Women’s Associations, declared, “We will continue our battle.” “With this choice, Turkey is shooting itself in the foot.”

Since March, she added, women and other vulnerable groups have been more hesitant to call for help and less likely to receive it, with COVID-19-fueled economic hardships leading to a sharp spike in violence against them.

Since a dramatic spike five years ago, one monitoring group has recorded nearly one femicide every day in Turkey.

More rigorous implementation, according to supporters of the Convention and related laws.

The deal, according to many conservatives in Turkey and Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted AK Party, weakens the family. Some argue that the Convention encourages homosexuality by enforcing the principle of non-discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Erdogan’s administration told the administrative court on Tuesday that scrapping the deal “would not result in any legal or practical deficiency in the prevention of violence against women.”

Dunja Mijatovic, the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, wrote to Turkey’s interior and justice ministries earlier this month, expressing alarm over a surge in homophobic rhetoric among some authorities, some of which was directed towards the convention.

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