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Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention: We stand with the women of Turkey

Turkey, the first signatory nation to the Istanbul Convention in 2011 has declared their withdrawal from the treaty. This follows an unprecedented ‘presidential decision’ last week.

International law guides national policies through setting standards and accountability. For instance, Malaysia is guided by international laws like CEDAW and The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Elimination Of Violence Against

Children in Asean.

The Istanbul Convention, which Turkey ratified in 2012, was an important step in advancing women’s rights. It upholds a zero-tolerance legal standard against violence, and obliges member states to consider violence against women as a violation of human rights.

Women’s groups in Turkey have adopted the hashtags #IstanbulSozlesmesiYasatir and #IstanbulSozlemesiBizim in protesting this move and have pointed out that this decision was made despite gender-based violence still being pervasive in the nation. These  groups have pointed out that in 2019, Turkey recorded 474 domestic violence related murders — the highest number the nation has seen in a decade.

Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO) sees this withdrawal as heavily regressive toward achieving gender equality on domestic and international levels. It also poses immense danger to women and other gender minorities, considering that rates of femicides, honour killings and domestic violence are expected to be especially heightened in the current coronavirus pandemic.

The Convention compelled Turkey to be accountable toward the goal of gender equality and the elimination of gender-based violence through the convention’s reporting mechanisms. International laws like the Istanbul Convention and CEDAW are standards that the government, civil society, and the public can refer to in improving national policies.

WAO stands in solidarity with all women’s groups, LGBTQIA+ groups, and all individuals susceptible to or have been affected by gender-based  violence in Turkey which may be exacerbated by the government’s unjust decision to withdraw from the Istanbul convention.

It is imperative that nations continue to recognise the severity of gender-based violence around the world. Essential mechanisms that can aid in the advancement of women’s rights and the elimination of gender-based violence nationally and  internationally  should not be disregarded in working toward a world free from gender violence.


About Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)

Since 1982, Women’s Aid Organisation has provided free shelter, counselling, and crisis support to women and children who experience abuse. We help women and their children rebuild their lives, after surviving domestic violence, rape, trafficking, and other atrocities. Learning from women’s experiences, we advocate to improve public policies and shift public mindsets. Together, we change lives.

Call the WAO Hotline at 03 3000 8858 or SMS/WhatsApp TINA at 018 988 8058 if you or someone you know is experiencing abuse. For more information, visit

For more information, please contact:
Kiran Kaur
Advocacy Officer / 016 7233 247

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