Turkey’s highest administrative court on Tuesday upheld a ruling over President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s decision to withdraw the country from a European treaty protecting women from violence, Sözcü newspaper reported.
The Council of State ruled that the Turkish leader’s decision to exit from the Istanbul Convention was lawful, rejecting petitions seeking its cancellation, the newspaper said.
In March of last year, the Turkish president announced the country’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention – a ground-breaking international treaty specifically designed to tackle systematic and widespread violence against women and girls – by presidential decree, a move which many experts and critics in the country criticized as unconstitutional. The decision sparked nation-wide protests, which coming under condemnation from women’s rights groups and Western nations.
Erdoğan’s government cited the use of the Istanbul Convention to “normalize homosexuality” and as such was “incompatible with Turkey’s social and family values,’’ in justifying the decision.
The Council of State received legal appeals to suspend the withdrawal from groups including the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), bar associations and women’s organisations.
Violence against women and femicide remain serious problems in Turkey, where citizens are putting increased pressure on the government to tackle the issue.
The country’s main opposition party leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu reacted to the court’s ruling, as he vowed to return Turkey to the convention “within a week or even 24 hours” should his CHP come to power in an election next year, ANKA news agency reported.
Turkish women’s rights group We Will Stop Femicides Platform (KCDP) dismissed the ruling by the Council of State in a Twitter post, saying they would not give up on the Istanbul Convention.
The group called on women to protest the ruling in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district on Tuesday evening.
Yılmaz Tunç, lawmaker with Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), welcomed the court’s decision, saying it would put an end to “discussions that lack a legal basis,’’ Oda TV reported.
Prominent Turkish human rights lawyer and activist Eren Keskin said Tuesday’s ruling revealed, once again, that Turkey’s “judiciary is at the behest of politics.’’
“Those who think they are going to prevent the women’s struggle, will not be able to do so,” Keskin said in a Twitter post.
A total of 425 women, a record number, were murdered in the country last year, according to the We Will Stop Femicide group, while at least 226 women have been murdered so far in 2022.
(This article has been updated with reactions to the Council of State ruling)