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Thousands protest Turkey's exit from women's treaty

March 27, 2021

Protesters have expressed their anger at President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, an international accord designed to protect women from violence.

Istanbul prostests
Protesters, mainly women, in Istanbul have rallied against President Erdogan's decreeImage: Emrah Gurel/AP Photo/picture alliance

Thousands of people took to the streets in Istanbul on Saturday to demand Turkey's government reverse its decision to withdraw from an international treaty against domestic abuse.

A heavy police presence was seen in Turkey's largest city as protesters demanded thatPresident Recep Tayyip Erdogan overturn a policy that affects women and LGBTQ+ communities.

Erdogan stunned European allies with last week's announcement that Turkey was pulling out of the Istanbul Convention, named after the city where it was drafted in 2011. Erdogan was prime minister at the time, before assuming the office of president three years later.

Turkey was one of the agreement's first signatories and women say their safety has been put at risk by Erdogan's decision to withdraw from the accord.

Protesters gathered in an Istanbul seafront square with purple flags and chanting slogans such as "Murders of women are political." One placard read, "Protect women, not the perpetrators of violence."

It is the second week in a row protests over Erdogan's decision have been witnessed in Turkey.

Amnesty: 'Disaster for women'

Amnesty International Turkey Director Ece Unver told news agency Reuters that "withdrawing from the Istanbul Convention is a disaster for millions of women and children living in this country."

World Health Organization statistics show 38% of women in Turkey are subjected to violence from a partner at some point in their lifetime.

Femicides and the murders of women in Turkey have also alarmed rights groups.

Conservatives in Erdogan's AK Party say the Istanbul Convention, which stresses gender equality and forbids discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, undermines family values and promotes homosexuality.

But Turkey's allies in the West have denounced what they described as an unwarranted decree which reduces the rights of women and the LGBT community.

Women in Turkey

Students protest once again

Meanwhile, hundreds of students on Saturday held another rally against the appointment of a new rector at Turkey's most prestigious university.

The students first expressed their frustration in January after Erdogan named an academic with ties to Turkey's ruling party as rector of Bogazici University.

Students and professors maintain Melih Bulu's appointment damages academic freedom.

jsi/nm (AP, Reuters)

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