Turkey’s Attack on Women – Liberal Article

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Turkey’s attack on women – Liberal Article

Turkey’s disregard for women is outrageous and something needs to change.

The Turkish government is considering withdrawing from The Istanbul Convention, a European treaty aimed at curbing violence against women. As a nation where domestic violence is an entrenched issue, this is outrageous! This has to be the final straw. Turkey’s actions must be condemned and change needs to happen. If not, their withdrawal could set a very dangerous precedent and spark regional increases in domestic violence across the EU

It saddens me to say that domestic violence is horrendously common in Turkey. Reliable data is sparse, but what little does exist suggests that femicide — killing women because of their gender — has occurred for years. According to a 2009 study, 42% of Turkish women will suffer some form of physical or sexual violence at the hands of their partner. 

And, every year, the problem is getting worse. In 2019, 474 women were murdered by their partners, and, in 2020, figures are even higher as coronavirus lockdowns have prevented women subjected to violence from escaping. 

So, why is domestic violence so high? One reason is patriarchal family structures. In Turkish society, a woman’s place is with her husband. Men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it. And when there’s an issue of authority in a relationship, violence is often the solution. But, I think the biggest reason is the government who ignore the problem because they’re complicit! 

For 17 years, the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) efforts to prioritise the preservation of family unity has cost hundreds of women their lives. Politicians imply that men and women are not equal, that women are given by God to men to care for. They promote a family-controlled by men, where everyone in the family obeys the men legitimising abusive behaviour.

Their family-oriented policies emphasise the role of women as “housewives” and “mothers” at the expense of their rights. And, at every opportunity, AKP rolls back basic protections won by women, culminating with their proposal to withdraw Turkey from The Istanbul Convention over concerns it “threatens traditional family values” and promotes LGBTQ+ lifestyles. 

Withdrawing from the convention would be a significant downgrade in the protection of Turkey’s women. Nothing would compel the government to make any additional policies. This cannot happen and has to be the final straw. Enough is enough. 

Personally, I find AKP’s so-called ‘concerns’ laughably transparent. As Feride Eralp from ‘Women are Stronger Together’ said, “[politicians cannot] openly say they want women as their domestic slaves and the freedom to beat women at will, they latch on to LGBTI+ rights as a more ‘socially acceptable’ pretext to attack the convention”, they have latched onto LGBTQ+ rights as a more ‘socially acceptable’ pretext to attack the convention. But how can they be concerned about LGBTQ+ when there’s no mention of it in the treaty?

On top of this, I don’t understand how you get “destroying the Turkish family” from a document that focuses on preventing violence against women. The convention doesn’t refer to any family values but instead aims to stop all kinds of domestic violence without considering ethnicity, sexual preferences, or social backgrounds. If this really is about not liking specific parts of the convention, then instead of pulling out, Turkey could re-negotiate certain clauses. 

EU nations must see through this facade and put serious pressure on Turkey to remain in the treaty. Otherwise, it may set a very dangerous precedent and encourage other European nations to follow suit. Alarmingly, the convention has already come into trouble in Poland, Bulgaria, and Slovakia. This is really scary. If this chain reaction isn’t stopped, we may have a shadow pandemic on our hands. 

In general, the European Commission needs to be much firmer when countries stray away from liberal values. It must make recipients of EU funds conditional on compliance with the rule of law and treaties such as The Istanbul Convention.

This is a concern not just for Turkey’s women, it’s a question for women everywhereWe have to get serious about women’s rights.

Written By Guest Liberal Writer, Libby Gilbert.

Point of Information

Evidence women’s’ emancipation is still only an ongoing process – A Conservative Response

Any withdrawal from something so intrinsically linked to basic human rights as the Istanbul Convention is a worrying act. With regards to most of what Libby says I agree.

Femicide and violence towards women are awful, wrong, and completely unjustifiable in my mind. Although it is worth noting domestic violence is not exclusively violence against women, although in Turkey it is close to being synonymous.

Fundamentally I think all the points Libby raises link to Turkeys shift away from secularism. This is also reflected by the ever-creeping aspects of corruption appearing within Turkish politics. The most prominent aspects of this often revolve around President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Some key events include the 2017 referendum to grant himself greater presidential powers and in 2019 when he contested the election victories of opposition parties.

This movement away from secularism (the founding principle of the Turkish Republic by Ataturk), alongside the archaic attitudes towards gender and women, is what most accredit these events to. It was Ataturk who replaced Sharia law in Turkey with European civil codes in 1926, positioning Turkey as a modern state like Switzerland, Germany, France, or Britain.

Ataturk believed movement away from religion was the way to achieve modernisation and a lot of Turkey’s current population agree. The AKP is more of a traditionalist party and wants to uphold values that predate the Republic of Turkey. To stop this attitude of complicity towards the violence, modern Turkey needs to embrace its secular genesis under Ataturk. It needs to stop people like President Erdogan allowing it to continue.

On the flip-side, with each election support for President Erdogan decreases and perhaps we are witnessing the maturing of true democracy within Turkey, as statistics show this violence is relative to individuals and ideologies, rather than an attitude of the entire nation.

We should hope for an election that will lead to a party gaining power that will hold more egalitarian beliefs; and if Turkey does indeed withdraw from the convention, will rectify that mistake.

Written by Guest Conservative Writer, Peter Pearce

We see through the veil, Turkey’s women are under threat – A Labour Response

Well said, Libby!

Turkey’s track record on women’s rights and gender-based violence is frankly terrible According to a Turkish government study, four out of ten Turkish women are beaten by their husbands and a European Union-funded poll concluded that “one out of ten women has reported to have been beaten during her pregnancy.”

Despite this alarming evidence, Meryem Ilayda Atlas notes that “those who want Turkey to leave the convention usually don’t accept that there is specific violence against women”. It is these blind few who argue the convention threatens “family values” and traditional “gender roles”. The convention aims to add further protections to women, but as men are usually the perpetrators, many have interpreted the convention as an attack on the patriarchy and male control.

Last time I checked, domestic violence and femicide were not inherent to the concept of family. So far in 2020, 248 women have been killed in femicide or domestic violence cases. This is the “family values” and “gender roles” that the AKP wants to protect.

Rather than the convention being an attack on men, it merely holds Turkey’s legislative and judicial system to account. I mean, it is under their supervision that these human rights abuses are happening. In 2011, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the Turkish authorities had failed to protect a woman from her abusive ex-husband. They were responsible for allowing his domestic violence to escalate to the point where he killed her mother at gunpoint.

Sadly, I suspect this may have contributed to the belief that the convention is the “exportation of Western values”. Lobbyists can spin the convention as being an infiltration of the West, an excuse to meddle in Turkish politics. Thus, opposition to the convention becomes less of Turkey’s women ‘s rights issue, and more one of patriotism and nationalism.

The move incited rallies and protests, with posters reading, “The Istanbul Convention is born out of women’s blood,” and “We will not allow femicides.” We can only hope that this is a sign that Turkey as a whole does not agree with the AKP (despite the worrying growing support of Erdogan) and that they will not go through with the withdrawal.

Written by Guest Labour Writer, Abi Smuts

Libby Gilbert
Junior Liberal Writer | Website

Hello! My name is Libby Gilbert, and I am a third-year undergraduate studying Politics at the University of Exeter. From a young age, I have been passionate about all things political, getting myself into many a controversial conversation that I wish I’d never started.

Peter Pearce
Conservative Writer | Website
Abi Smuts
Labour Senior Writer | Website

Hi, I’m Abi, a final year at Uni of Exeter studying International Relations and English. To me, it was only in A Levels that I realised how important politics was, when I was stuck in my male-only, extremely conservative Politics class having to constantly justify and defend my opinions to them.

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