After Istanbul: Women’s Rights and Human Rights in Turkey

GIGA Talk, Berlin, 11 May 2022, Event Link

In March 2021, Turkey announced that it would leave the Istanbul Convention – the Council of Europe’s milestone legislation in addressing violence against women and domestic violence. This step, which took effect on 1 July 2021, came as an unexpected reversal since the Convention had been signed under the Turkish presidency of the Council of Europe in May 2011 and the Turkish parliament had been the first to ratify it in 2012. Turkish women’s rights organisations and opposition parties protested in the streets against this shock decision and condemned it as a further setback to Turkey’s continued democratic development. 

What has changed on the ground since then? What were the reasons behind the withdrawal from the Convention, important given the fact that it came in the context of other undemocratic moves such as Turkey’s refusal to implement key decisions by the European Court of Human Rights, the ongoing imprisonment of political opponents, the trial ban against the Kurdish HD Party, and the intimidation of civil society activists and journalists? What does all this imply for the Turkish government’s claim that it still pursues EU accession as a strategic goal?  

Meanwhile, the economic situation is bleak, the ruling AK Party faces a considerable decline in popularity, yet the political opposition has been weak. However, in February six opposition parties announced that they would form an alliance for next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections.  

This GIGA Talk will investigate the conditions on the ground, especially for women, following Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention. It will also examine the broader context of Turkish domestic politics and the implications of the country’s democratic backsliding.  

Speakers:  Feray Salman is General Coordinator of İHOP–Human Rights Joint Platform, Turkey. 

Dr. Hakkı Taş is a Research Fellow at the GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies. 

Discussant:  Petra Dachtler is Diplomat in Residence and Fellow at the GIGA.  

Moderator:  Prof. Dr. Merike Blofield is Director of the GIGA Institute for Latin American Studies.

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