Former ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy Mehmet Metiner expressed regret for voting in favor of the Istanbul Convention, an international initiative which was first approved by Turkey in 2012 and aims to combat domestic violence against women.
“I have a confession to make in my name. We made a mistake," Metiner told Gazete Damga on May 6, adding that he and other AKP deputies only voted because they saw their party group deputy chairmen voting and that he raised his hand without knowing what he was voting for.
Turkey voted in favor of and ratified the Istanbul Convention, which has since been signed by 45 countries and ratified by 33.
“The group leaders of the [different political] parties must have made an agreement with each other and it was approved and passed,” Metiner said.
He also criticized the Women and Democracy Association (KADEM), for its support of the Istanbul Convention. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's daughter Sümeyye Erdoğan Bayraktar is KADEM's vice president.
Istanbul Convention is an international convention aimed at preventing violent attacks, protecting victims ending the impunity of perpetrators. Ankara was the first to ratify the convention in 2012, as it was also backed by the AKP and its women’s groups.
But, Turkey's conservative and Islamist circles have been criticizing its for years because they believe that it is damaging family values and challenging conservative understanding of gender identities.
These groups press on the AKP government to withdraw from the convention. Women’s rights groups, on the other hand, urge the government to effectively implement the convention, drawing attention to the growing number of domestic violence cases in the country.
In February, daily Cumhuriyet reported President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is also the chairman of the AKP, as telling his party officials that the government will "review" the Istanbul Convention.
Erdoğan's comment reportedly came after an AKP deputy complained about the falling marriage rate among people and suggested that the government undertake works to encourage people to marry earlier.
"We will review the Istanbul Convention once again. We will undertake a work regarding this," Erdoğan reportedly said in his reply to the deputy.