[CONTENT NOTE: graphic descriptions of violence against women including murder.]
Protests as Turkey pulls out of treaty to protect women
Women take to streets to demand President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reverse withdrawal from European pact
Thousands protested in Turkey on Saturday calling for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to reverse his decision to withdraw from the world’s first binding treaty to prevent and combat violence against women.
In Istanbul’s Kadıköy neighbourhood, protesters with purple flags and banners took to the streets chanting: “We are not scared, we are not afraid. We shall not obey.”
See, some women in Turkey have got it in their heads that they no longer wish to be controlled, subjugated, ordered around and subjected to violence and murder by their partners. Can you imagine? But the Turkish President has withdrawn the country from an E.U. treaty analogous to the US Violence Against Women Act. (Notice that I say “some women;” that is because it is an unfortunate fact that patriarchal norms are often enforced by women – in my opinion patriarchy’s greatest trick. Such women are generally referred to as “traditional,” or if you like, conservatives.)
The Council of Europe accord, forged in Istanbul [IN ISTANBUL!!! it’s actually called “the Istanbul convention!”], pledged to prevent, prosecute and eliminate domestic violence and promote equality. Turkey, which signed the accord in 2011, saw a rise in femicides last year.
No reason was provided for the withdrawal, but officials in the Turkish president’s ruling AK party had said last year the government was considering pulling out amid a row over how to curb growing violence against women.
Yes yes, I can see how progress toward reversing the increasing rates of violence and murder against Turkish women over the last decade could never be made without first withdrawing the country from a formal pledge to prevent, prosecute and eliminate domestic violence and promote equality.
The family, labour and social policies minister, Zehra Zümrüt Selçuk, said on Twitter (of course):
“The guarantee of women’s rights are the current regulations in our bylaws, primarily our constitution. Our judicial system is dynamic and strong enough to implement new regulations as needed.”
“See? We already have this shit totally covered, ladies!” minister Selçuk said in an exclusive interview with Death to Squirrels. “Now shut up, go home and get back to your traditional duties and let the men sort out how to stop ourselves from beating, terrorizing and killing you.”
As usual, whenever a government’s actions do not align with its rhetoric, the truth can almost always be found in the meaning of the actions, not the rhetoric. Even where, as here, there is no official messaging explaining why Erdoğan ditched Turkey’s treaty obligations with respect to the treatment and status of women, the reason is usually not that difficult to find out: there are almost always willing assholes who will proudly tell you straight up what horrible human beings they are. (Such assholes are generally referred to as “traditional,” or if you like, conservatives.)
Many conservatives in Turkey say the pact undermines family structures, encouraging violence.
“That’s right!” many conservatives in Turkey said in an exclusive interview with Death to Squirrels. “If families are NOT ‘structured’ such that the boot of a man rests at all times on the neck of a woman, even more violence will be required to return her to her proper position and keep her there!”
They are also hostile to the principle of gender equality in the Istanbul convention and see it as promoting homosexuality, given its principle of non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.
OH NOEZ NOT TEH GHEYYYZ. If we cannot control, beat up and kill our women, everyone will be turned into gays!
Some conservatives believe it’s even worse than that:
Despite the fact Turkey has the highest femicide rate among the top 34 OECD countries, conservative elements in Turkey’s political sphere have repeatedly petitioned for the country to withdraw from the Istanbul convention on the grounds that it encourages divorce and ‘immoral lifestyles’.
“If women start divorcing men just for punching, kicking and choking them, who will men be allowed to beat up then?” conservative elements in Turkey’s political sphere said in an exclusive interview with Death to Squirrels. “Our dogs?! Please. We would never do that!”
Turkey is not the first country to move towards ditching the accord. Poland’s highest court scrutinised the pact after a cabinet member said Warsaw should quit the treaty which the nationalist government considers too liberal.
“That is the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard, treating wimminz as equals to menz!” Poland said in an exclusive interview with Death to Squirrels. “How the hell would we control them if we did that?! Stupid, stupid liberals.”
Turkey has been a candidate to join the [European Union] bloc since 2005, but access talks have been halted over policy differences and Ankara’s record on human rights.
“Those Europeans are crazy,” Turkey said in an exclusive interview with Death to Squirrels. “Human rights?! Next thing they’ll be telling us women are humans, or somehow deserve human rights! They’re insane.”
You know, I actually prefer it when men – individually, as well as the power structures and political establishments they dominate and control – are willing to step up and really own their commitment to violent patriarchy. It beats the hell out of the prevailing denial, dismissal and minimization of the very same violence here, and the same rationalizations and impulses that underlie all of it, consciously or otherwise.
*Guardian content courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd. under Open License Terms.