Press Release

UN Joint Statement in response to Turkey’s withdrawal from Istanbul Convention

20 March 2021

The United Nations in Turkey is deeply concerned about the decree No.3718 announced in the Official Gazette on March 20, 2021 with which Turkey terminates being a party to the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence.

The Istanbul Convention, ratified by the Government of the Republic of Turkey in 2012, aims to protect women against all forms of violence, and prevent, prosecute and eliminate violence against women and domestic violence. It is the first and most comprehensive international treaty specifically addressing these issues and builds on the standards enshrined in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread human rights violations in the world. It is estimated that worldwide 1 in 3 women are subjected to physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner or sexual violence from a non-partner during their lifetime – a number that has remained largely unchanged over the past decade. In Turkey, according to the latest National Research on Violence against Women from 2014, 38 percent of ever-married women have been subjected to physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime. In its most extreme form, and often as the final act on a continuum of violence, hundreds of women are murdered every year. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a further escalation of violence against women and girls around the world, due to restrictions of movement, social isolation, and economic insecurity.

To tackle this pervasive human rights violation, concerted and comprehensive actions at the policy, legislative and institutional level are needed, and the ratification and implementation of the Istanbul Convention by States signify a crucial commitment in this direction.

Turkey was the first country to ratify the Convention, and it has taken important steps to align its national legislation with it, including by adoption of Law No. 6284 on Protection of the Family and Prevention of Violence against Women.We are concerned that Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention would undermine the significant efforts invested so far to prevent and combat violence against women and may hinder progress towards further strengthening of national legislative, policy and institutional frameworks. We urge the Government of the Republic of Turkey to continue protecting and promoting the safety and rights of all women and girls, including by remaining committed to the full implementation of the Istanbul Convention.

The United Nations in Turkey will continue supporting the efforts of the Government, civil society and all national partners to ensure that women and girls live free from violence, in line with the principle of gender equality and the commitment to “leave no one behind” of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

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