Exit from Istanbul Convention 'did not increase violence against women,' Erdoğan says

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Nov. 25 argued that withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention had not increased violence against women while speaking during the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women program in a university in Istanbul.

Duvar English

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey on Nov. 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, argued that Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention did not have a negative effect on violence against women.

“Our withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, which was made an object of exploitation by marginal groups, did not affect our fight with violence against women,” said Erdoğan referring to LGBTI+ groups that advocated against the withdrawal. 

Erdoğan added, “The attacks against the family unit have nothing to do with protecting women’s rights, and everything to do with collapsing our national unity.” 

Further advocating for the family’s importance for Turkey, Erdoğan said that the family was the most steadfast fortress protecting women from violence.   

The President stated that the government saw combatting violence against women as a part of its mission to glorify the family. 

Erdoğan also shared his thoughts on gender equality. “Men and women are equal subjects of Allah, they are equal citizens. One is not superior to the other.”

Turkey was the first country in 2011 to ratify the landmark Istanbul Convention treaty, officially known as the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signed the presidential decree on March 20, 2021, quitting the landmark treaty on the grounds that the pact undermines the family.

Some conservatives also pushed for withdrawal saying that the convention was promoting homosexuality through its principle of non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. 

On July 1, 2021, the country formally left the convention, triggering massive protests and anger from women’s rights groups, who believed the agreement was essential.

Turkey suffers from high rates of femicide. The “We Will Stop Femicides Platform reported 253 femicides and 194 suspicious female deaths during the first ten months of 2023. The platform reported 334 femicides and 245 suspicious deaths in 2022.