Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who in a sudden move early Saturday took Turkey out of the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty against domestic violence, also removed parts about Turkey’s withdrawal from the convention from a speech he made at a party convention on Wednesday.
Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) held its 7th Ordinary Grand Congress in Ankara this week. In copies of Erdoğan’s speech text delivered to members of the press were paragraphs about Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention, which brought Turkey widespread international criticism and condemnation. Erdoğan, however, did not say a word about the convention when he spoke to his party supporters.
In his original speech text, Erdoğan says Turkey is a country that does not need to take advice from anyone about protecting of the honor of women or improving their rights and safety.
He also says although Turkey adopted the treaty for the protection of women, “they have witnessed over time that some expressions in the treaty have turned out to be attacks on our beliefs and culture that also destroy the institution of the family, the guarantee of our existence and our future.”
“We could not have allowed issues that are signs of perversion according to our beliefs to be constantly brought to our attention and turn into tools of pressure.”
The 2011 Istanbul Convention, signed by 45 countries and the European Union — Turkey was the first signatory — requires governments to adopt legislation prosecuting domestic violence and similar abuse as well as marital rape and female genital mutilation.
Although Turkey was the first signatory of the treaty, Turkish government officials continue to make statements against the treaty.
Minister of Family, Labor and Social Security Zehra Zümrüt Selçuk said Turkey has all the legal tools necessary to protect women and to fight against domestic violence and that the Istanbul Convention led to social polarization among society.
“While one part of society saw this text as the only tool to fight domestic violence, another part could say it led to changes in the social texture of the society. So this text has led to social polarization,” said Selçuk.
Conservative circles mainly claim that the Istanbul Convention has destroyed families by introducing “foreign terminology” to traditional Turkish values and the law.