Nergis Demirkaya – Müzeyyen Yüce / DUVAR

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has been seeking ways to amend the Istanbul Convention, which aims to combat violence against women, via sending a letter of intention that includes its objections.

The party has been evaluating its options regarding the convention following its Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting, during which AKP officials decided to take steps to “remove the complaints.”

Introduced in 2011 and ratified in parliament in 2012, the convention specifically targets violence against women and obliges ratifying countries to prevent gender-based crime, provide adequate protection and services for victims and assure the prosecution of perpetrators.

Turkey’s conservative and Islamist circles have been criticizing it because they believe that it is damaging family values and challenging conservative understanding of gender identities.

The AKP brought the issue to its agenda, saying that it may withdraw from it “since it harms the family institution and encourages homosexuality.”

The 80th article of the convention allows countries to withdraw from it via notifying the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, AKP sources told Duvar, adding that the priority is not withdrawing from it.

Fourth article can’t be objected

According to AKP sources, the party weighs writing a letter that includes its objections.

Although it’s possible to annotate the convention, the fact that it should’ve been done at the stage of signing prevents the AKP from doing so. Further, the fourth article of the convention, which includes “gender” and “sexual orientation,” can’t be objected to.

The most likely scenario is sending a letter of intention to the Council of Europe that includes its objections to the convention, AKP sources said, adding that it may also be conveyed through GREVIO – Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.

The AKP has also been examining the countries who withdrew from the convention.

“Turkey won’t be relieved until the convention is changed,” sources said.

Women’s rights group seek meeting with Erdoğan

Elsewhere, women’s rights groups have requested meetings with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and AKP lawmakers on the issue.

Women’s rights groups have said that they can launch protests all over Turkey to protect women’s rights if the country withdraws from the convention.

Women Associations of Turkey chair Canan Güllü said that the issue of withdrawing from the convention was brought to the AKP’s agenda by religious cults and communities, adding that there are no articles that promote homosexuality as claimed by said cults.

“Those who defend withdrawing from the convention will demand Islamic marriages next,” Güllü told Duvar.

“We’ll tell people about how this convention keeps women alive. Women will never allow withdrawing from it,” she added.

We Will Stop Femicides Platform General Secretary Fidan Ataselim, meanwhile, said that violence against women increases when women’s rights are targeted.

“Withdrawing from the convention means the state’s approval of discrimination. It would weaken women and normalize violence against them,” Ataselim said.

“We won’t let any articles of the convention be changed,” she added.