Turkish Women Protest Against Withdrawal Of Treaty To Combat Gender Violence

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Turkish Women Protest: Women have started protesting in Turkey from Thursday evening after the country officially pulled out from the international treaty designated to combat gender violence.

Protests took place around the country and in Istanbul as hundreds of women gathered on the bustling Istiklal Avenue, carrying banners and chanting slogans “We will not be silenced, we will not fear, we will not bow down”.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted the withdrawal won’t be a step backwards for women.

These women said they won’t give up on the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention, an international legislation designed to protect women signed by 45 countries and the European Union in 2011. “It’s not over for us,” one of the slogans read. Similar protests were carried out in other cities in the country. Activists also pledged to continue to fight as more women than ever before are demanding that their rights are protected. The protesters also clashed with police who fired tear gas in Istanbul.

Turkish women protest: Turkey was the first country to sign the Council of Europe treaty during a summit held in Istanbul, and it is the first to pull out 10 years later.

Erdogan ended the country’s participation in the convention with a surprise decree on March 20, prompting condemnation from women’s rights groups and Western countries. A court appeal to stop the withdrawal was rejected this week. The President also announced the action plan which includes achieving goals such as reviewing judicial processes, improving protection services and gathering data on violence. During the rallies, women demonstrators called on the government to retrieve the decision and strictly apply the convention’s articles to curb the growing violence against women in the country. Erdogan, however, said his country’s domestic regulations are sufficient to combat violence against women.

In March, the Turkish Presidency’s Directorate of Communications issued a statement saying the Istanbul Convention was “hijacked” by those “attempting to normalise homosexuality – which is incompatible with Turkey’s social and family values.”

Feature Image Credit: CBC