Turkey’s decision of ratifying the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention, was “wrong,” ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy chair Numan Kurtulmuş said on July 2.
“I am saying as a person, who has read the Istanbul Convention repeatedly, has also read this in English and worked on it. The signing of the Istanbul Convention was really wrong,” he said in a televised interview.
He indicated that the government might consider withdrawing from the convention, when asked if Turkey may withdraw from the convention.
“When our people has such an expectation, we cannot stay indifferent to this. As we have duly signed it, then it would be possible to duly withdraw from it,” Kurtulmuş stated.
Introduced in 2011 and ratified in the Turkish 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.
“There are two issues in this convention which we do not approve of. First is the gender issue and the other is sexual orientation issue. There are also other issues but these two have been the concepts which have played into the hands of LGBT and marginal elements. They have taken refuge behind these concepts,” Kurtulmuş said.
“The concept of ‘struggling with subjects such as so-called honor, tradition and customs is responsibility of the government” is included in the treaty. These are never acceptable issues,” he said, warning that some problems among families are not related to the points mentioned in the convention and “one should not fall for the mistake.”
“The Istanbul Convention is something wrong, I say this very clearly,” Kurtulmuş said, adding that many other AKP lawmakers have the same opinion.
“The thesis of ‘Domestic violence would increase in the absence of the Istanbul Convention’ is also wrong. Equality of opportunity for women and men is currently one of the most basic issues of our custom within the Turkish law system,” he said.
But women’s rights groups have long called for the proper implementation of the Istanbul Convention, pointing to hundreds of women who get killed every year at the hands of abusive men in Turkey, stricken with widespread domestic violence, as well as homophobic and transphobic attacks on the LGBTI community.
Withdrawing from the Istanbul Convention would mean paving the way for more violence against women, said the We Will Stop Femicides Platform (Kadın Cinayetlerini Durduracağız Platformu), which registered 415 femicides in 2019.