Women Reject the Decision to Pull Out of the Istanbul Convention: ‘The Fight Goes On!’

The decision to pull out of the Istanbul Convention created a public backlash across Turkey, and women took to the streets in many provinces, demanding the withdrawal of the decision and the implementation of the convention. Women's associations, and various NGOs issued declarations against the decision.

The women’s movement was quick to organize its reaction against the decision published in the Official Gazette on the night of March 20, 2021 to pull out of the Istanbul Convention, staging protests in numerous cities across Turkey such as Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Diyarbakır, Antalya, Mersin, Trabzon, Sinop and Bursa. Aside from women’s organizations, non-governmental organizations active in different fields, including Habitat Association, Vehbi Koç Foundation, Sabancı Foundation and TÜSİAD also published statements on the matter.

In the declaration issued by EŞİK Platform, it was emphasized that the withdrawal decision was null and void, and all actors including the Parliament were called upon to take action against the decision:

“The decision in question has not a legal but political rationale! The Istanbul Convention was approved unanimously by the Parliament, and so Turkey cannot be pulled out with a Presidential Decision. Therefore, the said decision is invalid, Turkey is still bound by the Istanbul Convention and must fulfil its obligations under the Convention. One of the foremost duties of the Parliament is to prevent violence towards women and femicides, which border on gendercide in Turkey. Against the government’s efforts to by-pass the convention, we call upon the opposition parties to embrace the will of the people as embodied in the Parliament.”

The statement issued by Federation of Turkish Women’s Association underlined the fact that “Pulling out of the İstanbul Convention with a Presidential decision is unlawful”. 

We Will End Femicides Platform organized a massive protest in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district on March 20, 2021 to protest the decision to withdraw from the Convention, raising the banner “Withdraw the Decision, Implement the Convention” and driving home the message “You cannot eradicate overnight the acquisitions of the struggles we have been waging for many years”.

Mor Çatı Women’s Shelter Foundation published a declaration, stating “As women, we will give up neither the gains achieved over many years of struggle, nor the fight for our lives, nor solidarity among women! We reject the decision to withdraw from İstanbul Convention!” 

Women’s Coalition issued a statement with a striking title that read “The state does not give women the chance to live free of violence”. The statement underlined, “Even if you encroach upon our legal protections, we women shall continue our fight for our lives and for a world free of violence.”

Women gathering in İstanbul’s Kadıköy district upon a call by We Will End Femicides Platform and EŞİK Platform defended the convention and stated that they will not abandon their gains.