Turkey: Women across the world demand reversal of decision to quit gender-based violence treaty

Women around the world will participate in today’s Global Day of Action, protesting President Erdoğan’s decision to quit the landmark international treaty on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

Ten years after it was signed, women are speaking today with one voice to demand that the Turkish authorities reverse a decision that will put the safety of millions of women and girls in peril

Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International's Secretary General

The actions – held both online and in person on the 10th anniversary of the Istanbul Convention – have been organized by women’s and human rights groups worldwide.

“Exactly ten years after it was signed, women are speaking today with one voice to demand that the Turkish authorities reverse a decision that will put the safety and even the lives of millions of women and girls in peril,” said Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Agnes Callamard.

“In the weeks since President Erdoğan’s announced his decision to quit the Istanbul Convention, women in Turkey and around the world are coming together. Rather than being cowed, women have been on the streets. Rather than being discouraged women have been galvanised. More than ever, people are talking about the Convention and understanding its importance.”

In March, President Erdoğan announced Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention in a presidential decree. The decision is to come into force on 1 July, but campaigners are demanding that Turkish authorities reconsider their decision.

Rather than being cowed, women have been on the streets. Rather than being discouraged women have been galvanised

Agnes Callmard, Amnesty International

Amnesty International is concerned that Turkey’s withdrawal is just the tip of a dangerous populist iceberg. Using a backward-looking and misrepresented frame of “family values” several governments are attempting to roll back women’s and LGBTI+ rights across Europe.

The voices of women in Turkey and around the world have been supported by strong condemnation of the decision to withdraw from world leaders including Joe Biden and European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen.

Despite lockdowns in many countries, physical actions are planned in some capital cities and virtual protests will take place on social media with people wearing purple in solidarity with women and girls in Turkey.

In the decade since it was first signed, the Istanbul Convention has been a crucial instrument that has helped protect women from violence

Agnes Callamard, Amnesty International

“In the decade since it was first signed, the Istanbul Convention has been a crucial instrument that has helped protect women from violence. Withdrawal would spell uncertainty, fear and real danger for millions of women and girls in Turkey,” said Agnes Callamard.

“The threat of violence is something faced by women and girls around the world on a daily basis. This is why the ratification of the Istanbul Convention is so significant and it is why international solidarity to protect it is so vital.”

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: 
Stefan Simanowitz,
[email protected] +44 (0)20 3036 5599

For details and materials of actions happening globally (including AV materials) please visit. https://oneamnesty.sharepoint.com/sites/app-secretariatopensend/_layouts/15/guestaccess.aspx?folderid=0df43922053a3465881da8d5aeaece1f6&authkey=ATvXF67x8TPifAGxeQPIKqc&e=TmbDGX

BACKGROUND

The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, known as the Istanbul Convention, opened for signature in Istanbul, on this day in Turkey in 2011.

The Istanbul Convention is the first European treaty and the most far-reaching international treaty to tackle violence against women and domestic violence. The Convention sets minimum standards on the prevention of violence, protection of women and girls at risk, and the criminal prosecution of perpetrators as well as establishing protection and support services such as shelters and medical help for survivors.

Turkey was the first country to sign and ratify this treaty that bears the name of its most iconic city and, if it doesn’t reverse its decision, it will be the first country to leave

Amnesty International

Thirty-four Council of Europe countries have now ratified the Convention, which come into force in 2014, and twelve more have signed but not yet ratified. Yesterday, Lichtenstein’s Parliament approved ratification of the Convention.

In March, the Turkish government attempted to justify their decision to withdraw from the Convention by claiming it is being used to ‘normalise homosexuality’ which they claim is ‘incompatible with Turkey’s social and family values’. See Amnesty International’s response here.

Turkey was the first country to sign and ratify this crucial treaty that bears the name of its biggest and most iconic city and, if it doesn’t reverse its decision, it will be the first country to leave.

ACTIONS

There will be protests and stunts outside Turkish embassies organized by Amnesty International groups several countries including the UK, the Netherlands, Austria, Italy and  Belgium (see https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1FEUytN_TulAgnzmFyDR7OLpLPkLXHs8K)

In other countries, activists will show solidarity with women’s rights groups in Turkey and support the Istanbul Convention online using the hashtag #IstanbulConventionSavesLives.

Today, Amnesty International’s Europe Director, Nils Muižnieks will speak at the conference organised by the German Presidency of the Council of Europe to mark the 10th anniversary of the Istanbul Convention. See https://www.coe.int/en/web/istanbul-convention/conference-gender-equality-and-the-istanbul-convention-a-decade-of-action