President Erdoğan's decision to withdraw Turkey from the Istanbul Convention is a sad day for women's rights

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Statement by Christa Schweng, President of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and Dimitris Dimitriadis, President of the Section for External Relations (REX)

The EESC strongly condemns the decision of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to withdraw Turkey from the Istanbul Convention (the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence). The Convention aims to prevent, prosecute and eliminate domestic violence and promote equality. Contrary to what President Erdoğan's supporters claim, the Convention actually strengthens families because it is only without violence and the threat of it that a family can be a healthy environment for all of its members. Although Turkey can take pride in having been the first country to have ratified the Convention in 2012, it can be criticised of not having implemented the provisions by its judiciary and law enforcement authorities.

According to Turkish organization "We Will Stop Femicides" 300 women were killed due to domestic violence in Turkey last year and another 171 women were found dead under suspicious circumstances, some of those cases also included alleged suicides. In light of these figures, the decision of President Erdoğan to pull out Turkey of the Convention is deplorable and incomprehensible. The fact that Turkish civil society was not consulted beforehand is unacceptable. The European organised civil society stands by the thousands of protesters in Turkey who have over the past weekend called for the presidential decree to be reversed.

At the same time, the EESC urges the few EU Member States which still have not ratified the Istanbul Convention, to do so without any further delay. The EU's accession to the Convention would underpin the new EU 2020-2025 gender equality strategy. Therefore, the EESC calls upon the Council to formally request the European Parliament's consent for the EU's accession to the Convention.