Turkey to discuss withdrawal from Istanbul Convention

Turkey will today discuss its withdrawal from the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women—known as

Turkey Reuters

Photo: Reuters

Turkey will today discuss its withdrawal from the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women—known as the Istanbul Convention—despite the country’s alarmingly high femicide rates.

Signed in 2011 with support from the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP), the convention is now perceived by the AKP’s conservative base as antithetical to the party’s Islamic family-oriented traditions.

The debate over Turkey’s withdrawal has sparked immediate criticism from a number of opposition parties, especially as the country grieves the murder of university student Pinar Gultekin. However, the debate has also been criticised by a number of women within AKP circles such as President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s daughter Sümeyye, who serves as the deputy chair of the pro-government Women and Democracy Association.

Despite the support of select AKP women, opposition demands are unlikely to factor into Erdoğan’s decision-making today. Since 2002, the president has drawn widespread support from less-educated, increasingly conservative women due to the AKP’s advocacy of family-centered social values, support of women’s grassroots networks and liberalisation of the hijab in official settings. The AKP’s reputation as a savior of previously oppressed Muslim women is not at stake, despite the high likelihood that Turkey withdraws from the convention.

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