Meral Akşener, presidente of the İYİ Party

Opposition criticises government for abandoning the agreement against gender violence

Turkey, the first country to ratify it, abandoned the Istanbul Convention due to “serious concerns” about some points of the treaty.

Turkish opposition criticized this Tuesday through the president of the İYİ Parti, Meral Akşener, the government’s decision adopted by a decree of President Erdoğan to remove Turkey from the European Convention against Gender Violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention for being the city where it was signed, and from which Turkey was the first country to ratify it.

“They have no concern for the protection of women or our children. Their only priority is to protect their seats. The Istanbul Convention is still alive,” Akşener said during a speech delivered to deputies of her party at the parliament in Ankara, in which she accused the AKP executive of abandoning the agreement to get votes among the more conservative circles.

Akşener also questioned the authority of the Turkish president to withdraw Turkey from an international convention previously ratified through a presidential mandate. “In our constitution, it is established that a presidential decree cannot be issued on matters that must be regulated by law. In other words, it says that the decisions and decrees of the president are not above the Constitution or the laws,” stressed the leader of the İYİ Parti.

Several European countries have “serious concerns” about the treaty

A presidential decree published on Saturday in the Official Gazette of the Republic announced the withdrawal of the Republic of Turkey from the Istanbul Convention, the first binding international treaty of its kind aimed at preventing and combating gender-based violence, in a decision that was questioned by several Western countries, including the United States, and for which no explanation was initially given.

The following day, the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement in which it stressed that the decision to abandon said agreement was not a renunciation of the Turkish state to defend women’s rights, but a criticism of the way in which it was drawn up that agreement. “The rights of women in the national legislation of the Republic of Turkey are protected by the most advanced standards,” the ministry said.

The statement went on to say that, despite acknowledging that the stated objective of the Istanbul Convention is to combat violence against women, some points and practices included in the agreement have generated criticism and “serious concerns” not only in Turkey, but also in other countries, remembering that there are 6 EU countries that have not even ratified it, such as Bulgaria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Latvia and Lithuania.

The Minister of Family, Labor and Social Services, Zehra Zümrüt Selçuk, underlined for her part through Twitter that Turkey will continue to take all necessary measures to protect the rights of Turkish women under a policy of “zero tolerance” to violence against women, emphasising that violence against women is a crime against Humanity that the Turkish State will continue to combat with all its means.

Turkish government believes that the agreement promotes homosexuality

For its part, the Communications Office of the Presidency issued another statement on Sunday explaining that the Turkish government made the decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention due to the manipulation that certain groups were doing of it, saying that the original idea of ​​the agreement to promote women’s rights “has been hijacked by groups seeking to promote homosexuality” and other trends that are incompatible with the values ​​of Turkish society.

Officially called the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, the treaty was created in 2011 with the aim of establishing a common legal framework to prevent and combat gender-based violence, in addition to promoting equal rights. Turkey actually became the first country in the world to ratify the convention; now, it has also been the first country to abandon it.