Why did Turkey leave Istanbul Convention? An analysis

WHAT’S THE Istanbul Convention ABOUT? 

According to EU Survey data released by European Commission in the year 2016, 1 in 3 females of EU have always been a victim of physical or sexual violence and about 55% have experienced sexual harassment.

Also, during childhood around 1 in 3 female experiences physical or sexual harassment and a large count of such cases, wits away unnoticed and unregistered. Additionally, only 30% of such majorly serious cases are reported to the police. 

Istanbul Convention, also commonly known as the Council of Europe Convention with the objective of curbing the violence against women and all forms of domestic violence. The mentioned treaty was found out to be the world’s first binding instrument to prevent and work in order to combat the cases of crime against women.

Also, it has the most comprehensive framework of laws and legislations, in order to tackle with the violence against girls and females, covering all the instances of rape, sexual assault, domestic violence, acid attack, female genital mutilation, forced marriages and many more. Moreover, the convention sets the minimum standards for governments to meet the low count of violence cases against women. 


  • The Council of Europe is an international organisation dedicated to the protection of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law throughout Europe.
  • In 1949, the council was established. It is made up of 47 countries.
  • There are 27 members of the European Union in that group (EU).

The convention was adopted by the council of Europe Committee of Ministers on 7th April 2011. Any government which ratifies the convention, terms out to be legally bounded in order to follow it. The very first country to rectify the same on 24 November, 2011 was Turkey but recently Turkey left the convention and the happening of same became controversial. 

The former step, done by Turkey came over three months after Tayyip Erdogan, President issued a decree on March 2021 of 2021 by stating the order to repeal Turkey’s treaty of Istanbul Convention despite of a varied range of alarming femicide and violence cases in Turkey. And, as a result it attracted a lot of criticism from numerous parts and quarters of the world and let to national protests across the country.


In the month of December, Denmark passed several reforms recognizing sex without consent to be considered as a sign of rape, and with adhering to the Istanbul convention, the mentioned reform emerged out to be an essential ground for causing changes in the legislation.

Also, the convention holds France as its part, which introduced and launched a push for ‘feminist diplomacy’, which means trying the best levels for settling a Gender Equality in the society and it was added as a benchmark to the convention. 

But the activists and experts who actually maintain the functioning of the treaty considers that it’s essential for the countries to remain together in the notion and engaged with it, in order to end the violence against women, even if tangible achievements aren’t immediately evident.

And among the countries which ratify the convention and be legally bound to it, implementation needs to be done efficiently too but the same has encountered several hurdles by problematic and porous implementation in the nations like Turkey and Poland. 


Homosexuality is called out to be incompetent with the social well-being of the society of Turkey and even though the gazette didn’t had any reference about the reasons of withdrawal, some officials belonging to Erdogan’s nationalist party claimed that convention demeans the concept of traditional family and the doctrine structure of society and promotes the count of divorce cases, and supports acceptance of LGBTQ community in the society throughout the world.

And further stated that there are sufficient local laws in the nation to support the rights of women and combat the cases of gender-specific violence and murder. 

Also, it surprises many individuals that despite of a tremendous increase in domestic violence cases as a repercussion of covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, taking such a step can’t be really motivated and supported. Also, people are very much scared of the thought that the step would certainly result in threat over basic rights and protection of the Turkish women. 


The step of withdrawal by Turkey received severe criticism throughout the nation as ignorance towards the alarmingly high rate of violence cases can’t be supported and motivated enough. Also, country ranks out to be 133 out of 156 countries in the Global Gender Gap Report 2021 and stating about the efficiency of local laws is of great question in the current time. 

Also, according to UN women data, Turkey holds a poor position in preserving the rights of women and 38 percent of women in the nation face violence from their partner at least once in their lifetime. More ignorance by Turkish Government could be seen by observing that no official data of femicides is maintained by their side. 

Subsequently, another report by KAGIDER, which is a women entrepreneur association of Turkey), which clarifies that the condition of Turkey in terms of violence against women and femicides before it ditched the convention was concerningly high. However, the general public is now concerned about their basic humanitarian rights too. 


In a joint statement, the United Nations stated that Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention would jeopardise the significant efforts made thus far to prevent and combat violence against women, and that it could stymie progress toward strengthening national legislative, policy, and institutional frameworks.

Furthermore, Canan Gullu, President of the Federation of Turkish Women’s Associations, stated that Turkey was shooting itself in the foot by making these decisions. She went on to say, “We will keep fighting.”

Following Turkey’s withdrawal announcement, US Vice President Joe Biden called the move “disappointing” and a “disheartening” step backward in the fight to end violence against women. The German foreign ministry, on the other hand, stated that “neither cultural, religious, or other national traditions can be used as an excuse to ignore violence against women.”. 


1. The 2015 Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme

  • To avoid sex discrimination based on gender
  • To ensure the girl child’s survival and protection
  • Ensure the girl child’s education and participation

2. The 2015 One-Stop Centre Scheme

  • To offer support and assistance to women who have been victims of violence in both private and public settings.

3. NIRBHAYA, 2012

  • At various levels, to improve women’s safety and security.
  • To ensure that women’s identities and information are kept private and confidential.
  • As much as possible, make provisions for real-time intervention.


  • To stop women and children from being trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation.
  • To make it easier for victims to be rescued from places where they are being exploited and placed in safe custody.
  • To provide immediate and long-term rehabilitation services to victims by providing basic amenities/needs such as shelter, food, clothing, medical treatment, and counselling.

And many more such schemes, in several respective years, with a similar objective and goal.


As a result, rather than restricting women’s freedom in every way, the ruling government should encourage “women empowerment.” The current practice is a threat not only to the country but also to the entire world. Rather than taking a conservative approach to running the country, the government should open citizens’ minds to the possibilities of “gender equality.” 

Domestic violence has increased in Europe this year, according to the World Health Organization, during months of quarantine to combat the coronavirus. Also, according to the Council of Europe, women are subjected to domestic violence simply because they are women, and countries should take steps to combat this practice. 

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