“The choice is ours, the decision is ours, this night is ours, this path is also ours!” The Turkish women raised this slogan, as they took to the streets in major cities, including Capital Ankara, in the second week of August. Wearing masks and holding banners, the protesters made it clear that they would not be silent anymore, and would do everything possible to maintain their Solidarity! They staged the protests against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s decision to withdraw Turkey from the Istanbul Convention! The Istanbul Convention or the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence is a Human Rights Treaty that was opened for signature on May 11, 2011 in the Turkish city. The Turkish State has failed to keep that promise, as the country has witnessed a steady rise in domestic violence. In such a situation, the President’s decision would certainly create more troubles for the Turkish women. The girls have taken to the streets against this terrible conspiracy of the State against them!
The irony is that the Convention was signed on the Turkish soil nine years ago. Since the 1990’s, the Council of Europe, a European Human Rights Organisation, had taken a number of measures to prevent domestic violence and abuse of women. Within a few years, the Council realised that specific laws needed to be enacted to provide equal protection to victims, everywhere. The seed of the Istanbul Convention was there in this realisation. As of March 2019, 45 European Union (EU) nations signed the Convention. Turkey had enacted legislation, as part of a specific plan to prevent women from domestic violence and abuse, way back in 2012. Unfortunately, Ankara has decided to change its stance on the aforesaid policy. The Erdoğan Administration has defended its decision, arguing that the Family Values has deteriorated in Turkey because of the excessive spread of Western Culture! Instead, the Government is planning to introduce a new version of the Convention that will be appropriate for the Turkish society, culture and tradition! However, the women of Turkey, who are often experiencing torture and violence, are not ready to accept this sort of absurd argument.
Interestingly, Turkey is not alone. Some other countries, including Spain, are likely to follow the suit, as they are preparing alternative plans before withdrawing themselves from the Istanbul Convention. The question arises here is: if the problem is the same irrespective of place and time, then why would the path be different? Again, what is the relation between ‘Tradition’ or ‘Culture’ with steps that are to be taken to prevent violence against women? It is because the Patriarchal Society does not want to lose the self-proclaimed Right to abuse women only because of the Legal issues. One can find the presence of this mentality in most parts of the world. The only difference is that while some countries refuse to provide women with legal protection, others easily ignore the existing laws. When a girl is abused, the society raises questions about her character and behaviour. Also, the society would rarely consider domestic violence as a problem. The Turkish women have realised the fact that they would have to maintain Solidarity, if they really want to raise their voice against this Arrogance!
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