Turkey: the long way back to the Istanbul Convention

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“International conventions are threats to society’s values. They are pieces of paper signed by States and Governments to declare to the world that they take an issue seriously, and quickly turn the page.” This is probably what Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s thought on Friday 19 March, as he decided to withdraw Turkey from the Istanbul convention.

With the single stroke of a pen and without consulting Turkey’s Parliament, Erdogan removed his country from the only International Convention which prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence. Never mind the fact that his country hosted the initial signing ceremony (hence the name “Istanbul Convention”), and the strong mobilisation of civil society activists: on July 1st Turkey will definitely turn the page of the Convention. 

The Istanbul convention has been hijacked by a group of people trying to normalize homosexuality, which is incompatible with Turkey’s social and family valuestweeted Fahrettin Altun, the head of communication for the Turkish presidential palace. Erdogan’s policies have long tried to push against gender equality advances.

To get to the crux of the matter, we interviewed five women’s rights activists on what this withdrawal means for women and the LGBTQI+ community. 

NB: answers have been edited for clarity.