The US has blasted Ankara's withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention -- which aims to combat violence against women -- after the move went into effect on Thursday amid protests across Turkey condemning the government’s decision.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced his intent to withdraw in March, saying Ankara would use local laws to enforce women’s rights instead. The withdrawal came a decade after the international treaty was signed and ratified in Turkey's biggest city, Istanbul.
The US State Department condemned Mr Erdogan’s decision and lamented Turkey’s exit from the international agreement.
“Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention is deeply disappointing and a step backward for the international effort to end violence against women,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said.
The We Will Stop Femicide Platform, a Turkish NGO that raises awareness about gender-based violence, reported that at least 300 women were murdered in the country in 2020.
The protests continued into the night despite a heavy police crackdown.
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women called Turkey’s decision deeply regrettable and urged the government to reverse it.
“The adoption of this decision in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic has the potential to deepen the protection gap for women and girls during a time when gender-based violence against women is on the rise,” the committee said in a statement.
It added that Turkey is undermining “the recognition of peremptory norms of international law such as the prohibition of torture, femicide and other grievous forms of gender-based violence".