It is hard to find something more scornful than Erdogan’s sudden decision announced on March 20, 2021, to withdraw Turkey from the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence.
The treaty, known as the Istanbul Convention, was finalized in Istanbul in 2011 and aims to protect victims and end impunity for perpetrators of vile acts against women.
Considering that Mr. Erdogan himself hosted the signing of the treaty, it is downright absurd that he would be the one to withdraw from it. This contemptible move is surpassed only by his moral insolvency.
Time for strict warnings
The European Union and the United States must not allow such a travesty to stand. This move will have disastrous and tragic consequences for nearly half of Turkey’s population.
The EU and US must directly warn Erdogan that annulling Turkey’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention is simply unacceptable and will bear severe consequences.
For someone who claims to be a reformer, Erdogan has willingly succumbed to the whims of a minority of bigoted Islamist men who view women as inferior humans whose place is at home, serving at the pleasure of men who still live in the dark ages.
Failing to stand up for what is right
38 percent of women in Turkey who have ever been married have been subjected to violence from an intimate partner and 300 women were killed last year.
Instead of standing against this kind of widespread domestic violence in his country, Erdogan shamelessly chooses to abandon the Convention.
Amnesty International Turkey Director Ece Unver observed with deep concern that “withdrawing from the Istanbul Convention is a disaster for millions of women and children living in this country.”
Erdogan’s withdrawal from the Convention is a continuation of his brutal rampage and purges against his own people.
Since the failed military coup in 2016 in particular (which he may well have orchestrated), he has systematically violated his people’s basic human rights and ruthlessly marginalized any opposition to his designs to spread his Islamist doctrine.
Sending out a harmful message
Erdogan’s revocation of the treaty sends a clear message to other tyrants that they have immunity to do as they wish to women.
In Turkey, more than 5,000 women are languishing in jails with their children (780 of whom are mere infants) and are subject to abuse and frequent rape by prison guards, sometimes to extort a confession about a male relative.
Lesbian and transgender women face pervasive discrimination.
Where Erdogan addresses the people in the name of divinity, women and girls face gender-based violence every day, as if such incomprehensible acts are sanctioned by God.
Apathetic toward the suffering of others
The irony is that Erdogan considers himself a devout Muslim, when in fact he cares less about the pain he inflicts on others. He is the opposite of what Gandhi observed: “I call him religious who understands the suffering of others.”
The organization We Will Stop Femicide Platform (KCDP) reports that a fourfold increase in violence has occurred since 2011 against women, solely because of their gender.
Tragically, while Erdogan’s egregious acts against women are unforgivable, men in many parts of the world seem to relish abusing women to satisfy their chauvinism. It seems like the victimization of women is the only way they can assert their manhood.
Violence against women
In nearly 50 countries around the world, marital rape is not criminalized. And yet, women face criminal prosecution for being the victims of rape.
Abortion is still illegal in most countries, female genital mutilation remains common and honor-killings are still a practice in many countries.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the majority of people living in poverty globally are women and are less likely to have access to healthcare and education.
Amanda Klasing, acting co-director of women’s rights at Human Rights Watch, observed that “Reports of increases in gender-based violence mask a larger risk that women in the shadows or margins of society will suffer violence without remedy or reprieve if governments don’t act quickly.”