Turkey’s withdrawal from women’s rights treaty sparks domestic backlash

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03/23/2021

Turkey’s decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention on the prevention of violence against women came as a shock to many, despite several years of agitation by the government and its allies. The move came without warning overnight on 20 March, startling politicians and women’s rights activists in the country who believed the issue had at least temporarily been kicked into the long grass. Conservatives in the country had long argued that the Istanbul Convention, to which Turkey was the first signatory in 2011, undermined the nuclear family and was too supportive of LGBT rights. In a statement justifying the withdrawal, the government’s communications directorate said the convention had been “hijacked by a group of people attempting to normalise homosexuality”, which it claimed was incompatible with Turkey’s “social and family values”. Deniz Altintas, a member of the We Will Stop Femicides Platform, told Middle East Eye that the women’s movement had already achieved “important gains through organised, collective and political struggle” in Turkey.

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