President Biden called Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention “deeply disappointing.”
“Around the world, we are seeing increases in the number of domestic violence incidents, including reports of rising femicide in Turkey, the first nation to sign the convention,” the President said in a statement released by the White House on Sunday. “Countries should be working to strengthen and renew their commitments to ending violence against women, not rejecting international treaties designed to protect women and hold abuses accountable.”
The President added, “This is a disheartened step backward for the international movement to end violence against women globally.”
The President’s remarks come a day after Turkey announced that it would withdraw from the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, otherwise known as the Istanbul Convention. A statement released by the Turkish president’s office, and which has since been reported by the BBC, claimed that the convention “was hijacked by a group of people attempting to normalize homosexuality — which is incompatible with Turkey’s social and family values.”
The decision was met with protests in Istanbul on Saturday, with opponents of the withdrawal claiming that it is a major setback for women’s status in the country, and another turn toward authoritarian rule from Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Demonstrators gathered in cities across the country to protest the decision. A coalition of women’s groups issued a statement saying that the decision “will empower murderers, abusers, and rapists of women” despite subsequent statements by the government that Turkey’s domestic laws will guarantee protections for women.
According to CNN, 78 women have been killed this year alone in Turkey. The BBC reports that at least 300 were killed last year according to the country’s We Will Stop Femicide Platform, although the numbers are likely to be higher.
The Istanbul Convention was created in 2011 by a coalition of countries to combat violence against women. Turkey was the first country to sign the treaty, which has since been signed by 45 countries and the European Union.
In his comments, Biden called gender-based violence “a scourge that touches every nation in the world. In the past few weeks, we’ve seen too many examples of horrific and brutal assaults on women, including the tragic murders in Georgia.”
Gender-based violence, “hurts all of us, and we must do more to create societies where women are able to go about their lives free from violence.”