US and UN criticise Turkey’s exit from women’s rights charter

Turkish conservatives say pro-equality pact undermines traditional family structure

(FILES) In this file photo a woman holds up a placard that reads, 'We will reveal suspicious female deaths' during a protest against Turkey's withdrawal from Istanbul Convention, an international accord designed to protect women, in Ankara on March 20, 2021.  US President Joe Biden said he was "deeply disappointed" on March 21, 2021 after Turkey withdrew from the Istanbul Convention, the world's first binding treaty to prevent and combat violence against women. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government announced the decision Saturday, the latest victory for conservatives in Erdogan's nationalist party and their allies who argued the treaty damaged family unity.
 / AFP / Adem ALTAN
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The US and the UN criticised Turkey’s decision to leave an international accord that was designed to protect women by preventing and prosecuting domestic violence.

US President Joe Biden on Sunday said Turkey’s decision to leave the Council of Europe accord, called the Istanbul Convention, was deeply disappointing.

UN Women urged Turkey to “reconsider its withdrawal”.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pulled the country out of the pact on Saturday, prompting criticism from those who said it was needed to battle rising levels of abuse in the home.

“Around the world, we are seeing increases in the number of domestic violence incidents, including reports of rising femicide in Turkey, the first nation to sign the convention,” Mr Biden said.

“Countries should be working to strengthen and renew their commitments to ending violence against women, not rejecting international treaties designed to protect women and hold abusers accountable.”

UN Women on Saturday urged Turkey to stay in the convention and “continue protecting and promoting the safety and rights of all women and girls”.

"We need bolder and game-changing actions that continue to move us forward, in order to ensure that women and girls live free from violence, in line with the principle of gender equality,” the UN agency said.

Turkey signed the Council of Europe's convention 10 years ago at its launch in Istanbul.

Ankara withdrew after conservatives complained that it undermined family values and promoted homosexuality.

Turkish government officials said domestic law rather than outside fixes would protect women’s rights.