Turkey considering quitting treaty on violence against women

Women protest for women rights and against child abuse in Istanbul. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 06 August 2020

Turkey considering quitting treaty on violence against women

  • The AKP will decide in the next week whether to initiate legal steps to pull out of the accord

ISTANBUL: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party is considering whether to pull Turkey out of an international accord designed to protect women, party officials said, alarming campaigners who see the pact as key to combating rising domestic violence.

The officials said the AKP is set to decide by next week whether to withdraw from the deal, just weeks after the vicious murder of a woman by an ex-boyfriend reignited a row over how to curb violence against women.

Despite signing the Council of Europe accord in 2011, pledging to prevent, prosecute and eliminate domestic violence and promote equality, Turkey saw 474 femicides last year, double the number seen in 2011, according to a group which monitors murders of women.

Many conservatives in Turkey say the pact, ironically forged in Istanbul, encourages violence by undermining family structures. Their opponents argue that the deal, and legislation approved in its wake, need to be implemented more stringently. The row reaches not just within Erdogan’s AKP but even his own family, with two of his children involved in groups on either side of the debate about the Istanbul Convention.

The AKP will decide in the next week whether to initiate legal steps to pull out of the accord, a senior party official told Reuters.

“There is a small majority (in the party) who argue it is right to withdraw,” said the official, who argued however that abandoning the agreement when violence against women was on the rise would send the wrong signals.

Another AKP official argued on the contrary that the way to reduce the violence was to withdraw, adding that a decision would be reached next week. The argument crystallized last month around the brutal killing of Pinar Gultekin, 27, a student in the southwestern province of Mugla, who was strangled, burned and dumped in a barrel — the latest in a growing number of women killed by men in Turkey.

Opponents of the accord say it is part of the problem because it undermines traditional values which protect society.

“It is our religion which determines our fundamental values, our view of the family,” said the Turkish Youth Foundation, whose advisory board includes the president’s son Bilal Erdogan. It called for Turkey to withdraw from the accord.

“This would really break Turkey away from the civilized world and the consequences may be very severe,” Gamze Tascier, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party, told Reuters.

The Women and Democracy Association (KADEM), of which Erdogan’s daughter Sumeyye is deputy chairwoman, rejects that argument. “We can no longer talk about ‘family’... in a relationship where one side is oppressed and subject to violence,” KADEM said.

Many conservatives are also hostile to the principle of gender equality in the Istanbul Convention and see it as promoting homosexuality, given its principle of non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.

Critics of the bid to withdraw from the pact say it would put Turkey further out of step with the values of the EU, which it has sought to join for decades.

“This would really break Turkey away from the civilized world and the consequences may be very severe,” Gamze Tascier, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party, told Reuters.

Turkey would not be the first country to move toward ditching the accord. Poland’s highest court is to scrutinize the pact after a Cabinet member said Warsaw should quit the treaty which the nationalist government considers too liberal.

Turkish women’s groups were set to protest on Wednesday to demand better implementation of the accord, taking to the streets after an online campaign in the wake of Gultekin’s killing where they shared black-and-white selfies on Instagram.

Turkey does not keep official statistics on femicide. World Health Organization data has shown 38 percent of women in Turkey are subject to violence from a partner in their lifetime, compared to about 25 percent in Europe.

The government has taken measures such as tagging individuals known to resort to violence and creating a smartphone app for women to alert police, which has been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times.

Related


Working mothers hit back at nursery closures in Jordan

Updated 21 October 2020

Working mothers hit back at nursery closures in Jordan

  • Jordan has already endured one of the strictest lockdowns in the region
  • Working mothers fear a second knockback as the country tries to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus

AMMAN: Working mothers staged protests on Wednesday against Jordan’s decision to close all nurseries until year-end, saying the move unfairly targets women in the pandemic.
Jordan has already endured one of the strictest lockdowns in the region and now working mothers fear a second knockback as the country tries to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.
“This decision has taken us back to events of (the first lockdown), when mothers were in disarray and nurseries were collapsing,” said Rana Ali of Sadaqa, an organization that advocates for women in the workplace.
“It’s an added burden on mothers who will lose the ability to balance their childcare duties and their work.”
Mothers and daycare workers demonstrated against the shutdown — due to begin on Saturday — outside the social development ministry, echoing growing anger on social media.
“Nurseries offer a crucial solution for thousands of working women and it is not a luxury,” tweeted Hadeel Seddiq.
“The closure decision is unfair and remote work is not a viable option for many professions.”
The protests came a day after the ministry of social development announced the planned shutdown, with almost 41,000 coronavirus infections and 414 deaths recorded countrywide.
The ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

SHUTDOWN
It marks the second time that nurseries will close because of COVID-19 after a near three-month hiatus in spring.
Only about 400 of the nation’s 1,400 nurseries re-opened after lockdown was lifted in June, citing financial losses and new hygiene and testing costs, Ali said.
Nebal Al-Haliq, who owns two nurseries in the city of Salt, 22 miles (35 km) from the capital, said the closure would hurt mothers and the 10 staff who tend to 55 children in her care.
“My priority is securing their salaries because their only source of income is the nursery,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“And I’m still paying off the debts from the first closure.”
Dentist Majd Hawamdeh said she would take her two children from Salt to her parents in Amman, a two-hour round-trip that she must make twice daily to carry out her job.
With only three hours work in between, the 29-year-old said had no choice but to cut patient numbers, halving her income.
“Meanwhile I have bills to pay every month,” she said. “These don’t stop whether you go to work or not.”
Women make up less than 15% of the workforce in Jordan, one of the lowest rates in the world, according to the World Bank.
“We already have challenges that face working women and these decisions... will only worsen women’s economic participation,” Ali said.

Related