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After the Istanbul Convention: Women and LGBTQI+ at the Crossroads of Global Anti-Gender Movements and the Kayyum Regime in Turkey

Hazal Halavut 001

Feminist night march, March 9, 2019. The banner reads “Feminist Rebellion.” Photo: ANF.

On March 20th 2021 women and LGBTQI+ communities in Turkey woke up to a feared announcement. Through a midnight presidential decree, Turkey unilaterally withdrew from the Istanbul Convention, a milestone international treaty on preventing gender-based violence. The next day a short statement was published on the website of the President’s Directorate of Communications. It read: “The Istanbul Convention, originally intended to promote women’s rights, was hijacked by a group of people attempting to normalize homosexuality – which is incompatible with Türkiye’s social and family values. Hence the decision to withdraw.”1

Thousands of women and LGBTQI+ people took to the streets to protest President Erdoğan’s decision. Women’s rights organizations, NGOs and opposition parties filed suits at the Council of State, the highest court in Turkey, arguing that the Presidential decree was unconstitutional because the President lacks the authority to invalidate an international agreement adopted in parliament. European Union officials condemned the decision, urging Turkey to reconsider. Unsurprisingly, none of the efforts were successful. On July 1st Erdoğan’s edict was officially enforced and Turkey, which had been the first country to sign the The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention in 2011 became also the first country to withdraw.

What has shifted in the last decade? The text of the Convention itself has remained unchanged since its writing. And the group of people with secret homosexual agendas to which the official withdrawal statement refers is nothing but imaginary. The Directorate of Communications’ text offers some answers following the initial announcement of withdrawal: “Türkiye is not the only country who has serious concerns about the Istanbul Convention. Six members of the European Union (Bulgaria, Hungary, Czechia, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia) did not ratify the Istanbul Convention. Poland has taken steps to withdraw from the Convention, citing an attempt by the LGBT community to impose their ideas about gender on the entire society.”2

The Turkish government is well aware that it is not the only country that instrumentalizes homophobia to limit women’s empowerment. Nor is presenting the Istanbul Convention as a threat to social and family values peculiar to Turkey. A global anti-gender movement working hand in glove with the populist Right has demonized an international treaty to combat gender-based violence in several countries. Having significant crossovers with these movements, understanding Turkey’s decision to withdraw also requires examining the authoritarian turn the country took after 2015 towards a kayyum3 regime where the democratic decision-making mechanisms were seized and bypassed by government appointees called kayyum or the President himself.

Assaults on Istanbul Convention in Europe

Poland has gone further than what the Directorate of Communications refers to, namely the withdrawal of Turkey from the treaty. A leaked document in March 2021 showed that the Polish government would not confine itself to simply withdrawing from the Istanbul Convention but plans to replace it with an “alternative convention on family rights,” and that it has invited the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia to join in.4 The alternate treaty, referred to as the Warsaw Convention, is designed to “protect” the family against constant “threats” posed by so-called “gender ideology.”

In July 2018 in Bulgaria, an intense wave of lobbying led by groups such as Society and Values (SAV) – a conservative organization which is a member of US-run coalition World Congress of Families (WCF) – resulted in the country’s highest court deciding that the Istanbul Convention does not conform to the Bulgarian constitution due to its definition of gender as a social construct. According to the court, such an understanding of gender “relativizes the borderline between the two sexes – male and female as biologically determined”.5

As the pressure to ratify the Convention continued, the leaders of Lithuania's Christian communities issued a joint statement earlier this year, claiming that the legislation based on “preconceived notions and opposition between men and women” denied human nature and endangered the common good.6 In the Czech Republic, the Christian and Democratic Union (KDU–ČSL) has organized to oppose the promotion of non-stereotypical gender roles claiming that doing so is a threat to children.7

In Latvia, religious leaders claim that the Convention contradicts with the Constitution and "makes it possible to impose on Latvia a project of changing society based on a gender ideology.”8 The Constitutional Court had to weigh in, deciding recently that the Convention complies with the constitution.9 Similarly, Slovakia’s parliament has voted against the ratification of the Convention twice already focusing on the “threat” of same-sex marriages.10

The ruling Fidesz Party in Hungary has argued against the Convention not only for its “destructive gender ideology” but also because it might “speed up or simplify immigration to Europe,” effectively refusing the obligation under the Convention to receive refugees persecuted over sexual orientation or gender.11

Across Europe, whether in constitutional courts or religious leaders’ open letters to parliaments, three articles of the 37-page-long Convention emerge as the source of controversy: Article 3(c) which defines gender as socially constructed roles, behaviors and activities; Article 4(3) that calls for fundamental rights to be secured without discrimination on any ground including sexual orientation and gender identity; and Article 12(1) which outlines the need to fight against “stereotyped roles for women and men.” All the parties in the debate claim that violence against women - the sole focus of the Convention - should end. What they oppose is the framing of the eradication of violence against women in these articles in the context of “achieving de jure and de facto gender equality,” which distinguishes Istanbul Convention from all prior legislative attempts.

The Spectre of Gender and the Populist Right

The question of how an international treaty drafted to combat gender-based violence became so politicized – thousands of people taking the streets in defense of it, heated protests of those who oppose it, public, parliamentary and legal debates about the word “gender”, repeated headlines in several countries for a number of years – requires a closer look at the spectre that is haunting Europe, as well as the globe – the spectre of gender.

From the recent law that went into effect in Texas which bans abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy to Turkey’s withdrawal from Istanbul Convention; from the closing down of gender studies departments in Hungary in 2019 to the right-wing mobilization against the historical peace referendum agreement in Columbia on the basis of “gender ideology” and to the efforts to scrap the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family in South Korea; or from the Peruvian campaign “Con mis Hijos no te Metas” (“Don’t mess with our Children”) against the imposition of the so-called “ideology of gender” in school curriculums in 2018 to Poland’s “LGBT-free zones” which is as of today, formed by more than 100 municipalities, one third of the country, an unholy alliance of conservative and religious groups across the globe are seeking to reverse major legal and social achievements on gender equality and sexual freedom to preserve the heteronormative patriarchal order.

Anti-feminist backlashes are not new. The opposition to and counter-attack against what is known as the “second wave” of feminism today had already gained momentum in the 1970s. However, the global movements against women and LGBTQI+ rights that have intensified in the last decade are different both in terms of their scope and mobilization. First, they are increasingly transnational in the sense that different groups across the globe - from small-scale men’s rights groups on Facebook to million-dollar corporations, governments and religious institutions - are learning from each other, joining forces, making alliances. Secondly, these movements are able to create mass public and street mobilizations - whether in France, Peru or Puerto Rico - by creating panic about traditional values, families, children and hence the future of nations.

The concept of gender, a concept that more or less since Simone de Beauvoir declared “one is not born a woman but becomes one” in 1949 has remained central to feminist knowledge production and practice, plays the leading role in these new movements. Contrary to the feminist project of emancipation, their concept of gender is a demonic force, a destructive conspiracy.

This notion of “gender ideology” as a threat to traditional family values first came from the Vatican in the 1990s.12 In response to the official recognition of reproductive and sexual rights as human rights in the United Nations Conferences of Cairo (1994) and in Beijing (1995) the Vatican took a series of steps to alarm its followers with the threat of the destruction of natural and traditional roles of woman and man upon which its concept of families and society is based. As women succeeded in introducing the word gender in international treaties and UN documents, “gender ideology” gradually became the term through which the Vatican organized its backlash against the accomplishments of feminist and LGBTQI+ movements.

However, while the Vatican, a few Catholic states, and conservative NGOs were the main actors of the fight against women’s rights at the United Nations in the 1990s,13 today, with “Muslim, and post-Soviet states, the United States, who are sometimes joined by groups such as the Organization for Islamic Cooperation, the League of Arab States, the UN Africa Group, and the G77” the transnational alliance against gender is larger than ever.14 The euphemism of protection of “natural families” obscures the misogynist, homophobic and transphobic agenda. The US based Christian Right coalition World Congress of Families began organizing World Conferences to convene these groups in 1997. In 2004, the UN’s International Day of the Family and the International Year of the Family started to be commemorated. Conservative NGOs formed the UN Family Rights Caucus in 2008 and 25 UN members established the Group of the Friends of the Family in 2015.

At the same time, mass mobilizations against “gender ideology” have been stirred up with the rise of right-wing populist governments and political parties from Latin America to the United States, from central and eastern Europe to South Asia which need to invent constant threats to create an “us” positioned against a “them”. These populist movements operate through the divisive and polarizing discourses of ordinary people versus the elite, the true patriots versus the betrayers or the pious underdogs versus the degenerate seculars. Different ethnic and religious minorities within countries are positioned as the common enemy. Muslims for the West, the West for many Muslim countries, migrants and refugees in every context are demonized. Increasingly intellectuals, activists, human rights defenders, civil society leaders, those who are the reminders of the fallen promise of liberal democracy are positioned as “them” and are being targeted. Women who defend their reproductive rights, who want equal pay, who fight for non-discrimination and LGBTQI+ communities who demand freedom and equality are dragged into this pool of “them”, often as degenerates who poison the nation with their imported notions of sex, gender, identity and freedom. The “us” side of the dichotomy ceaselessly emphasizes women’s sacred roles as mothers and wives.

Hence, feminist scholars mostly from Eastern European countries trace the recent global rise of anti-gender ideology not just as a simple continuation of anti-feminist backlash but rather as an essential part of a new political configuration15 where religious institutions (initially led by the Vatican) have joined forces with neo-liberal right-wing, populist, and authoritarian movements. In this new configuration, gender is often used as a glue in the populist discourse to “mobilize people around the insecurity and unfairness produced by the current social order;”16 and “to harness the anxiety, shame and anger caused by neoliberalism.”17 The discourse of attack on traditional values and family is useful for populist parties to direct people’s sufferings under unstable conditions to a false dream of both a stable past and a stable future where heteronormative family in which men were and will remain men, women were and will remain women as God wanted them to be as the nucleus of society.

The Istanbul Convention and the Politics of Gender in Turkey

The Istanbul Convention was finalized and opened for signatures during Turkey’s rotating presidency of the Council of Europe on May 11, 2011. Turkey was the first signatory and the first country to ratify it in parliament on November 24th of the same year.18 The government at that time was the same as today – the AKP (Justice and Development Party); but the AKP of 2011 was a different beast.

The AKP first came into power as a liberal conservative party in 2002, ending the decade-long coalition-governments-period associated with political instability and economic turmoil. Contrary to the anti-Western tradition of political Islam in which many of its cadres and supporters were rooted, it positioned itself as a pro-market, pro-democracy Western ally in the region in a post 9/11 world. Populist since its inception, AKP’s us were the pious underdogs; the them they stood up against, the secular elites, the Kemalists.

At the onset, AKP adopted a series of reforms to democratize the political system to adhere to the “harmonization packages” of the European Union. Achieving the long-awaited Turkish dream of EU membership was an important goal for the party for it served to make Turkey a model Muslim country while also helping to undermine the Kemalist’s hegemony over the state apparatus.

Women’s emancipation had been framed as a Kemalist project in Turkey since its foundation in 1923, rooted in the figure of the founder Mustafa Kemal. Committed to carrying Turkey from the remnants of the Ottoman Empire to the league of Western civilizations, the Kemalist regime secularized legal, institutional and cultural realms in the 1920s and 1930s through a series of reforms. Educated, unveiled women who were “emancipated” from Islam were put on display as the flag bearers of the project of Turkish modernization. But despite granting women equal rights in many fields of life, the Kemalist project also institutionalized patriarchy by establishing the nuclear family as the core of society in which men were officially recognized as the heads of the family while secular, enlightened women were constrained to being good wives and mothering the ideal children needed by the Turkish nation in its race to catch up with the West.19

Urban middle classes taking up and regenerating this Kemalist investment in nuclear families, rural parts of Turkey remaining somewhat distant to the reforms and ideology, and Kurdish regions resisting assimilation has meant that women's status and problems in Turkey have always had diverse facets among different ethnic, regional and class positions. But violence against women has been prevalent in all segments of society.

This is why gender-based violence has always been a central focus for feminists in Turkey. In the 1980s when an independent feminist movement emerged, the first large-scale campaign was the March for Solidarity Against Battering (1987). This campaign rose at a time where despite Turkey acceding to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1985, local laws remained insufficient, and the implementation of laws was inadequate due to sexist judges, and the lack of mechanisms to protect women from violence like shelters.

It took more than a decade of feminist organizing and a tremendous campaign by women’s organizations for a new Civil Code, which ended a husband’s supremacy in marriage as the “head of the household” and established equality between men and women in all civil fields, to pass through parliament in 2001. The AKP, elected in 2002, at first collaborated with the women’s movement. In the same year, women’s organizations formed the Platform for the Reform of the Turkish Penal Code and after three years of hard work and intense lobbying, on 26 September 2004, unprecedented far-ranging amendments were passed in parliament.20

The AKP greatly increased its vote share in the 2007 election riding a wave of support following progressive measures and economic successes resulting from neoliberal restructuring and welfare policy cutbacks backed by the International Monetary Fund. Soon after, it consolidated its power, purging Kemalists from the judiciary, senior bureaucracy and the military and staffing these positions with Gülenists - AKP’s main ally at that time. Steering the country through the global economic crisis of 2008 relatively unscathed increased AKP’s confidence further. Peace talks were also initiated with the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) to end the 30-year-long war in this period, which served as the cornerstone of the promise of democracy in the first decade of AKP’s rule.

However violence against women skyrocketed in the 2000s, femicide rates increasing 14 fold between 2002 and 2009.21 In 2009, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) found Turkey in violation of its obligations to protect women from domestic violence.22 A 2011 U.N. report indicated domestic violence rates in Turkey were almost twice that of the United States and 10 times higher than in some European countries.23 In the absence of official statistics, women’s groups started monitoring male violence incidents in national and local media sources, created platforms and organized campaigns to draw attention to the systemic murder of women, in most cases either by their ex-husbands after separation or by ex-partners during breakups, signaling that it was women’s empowerment and refusal to subordinate that had created this new wave of violence.24

In 2011, two terms into the AKP government, with the souring of EU membership dreams due to the Cyprus conflict, and a new neo-Ottomanist foreign policy doctrine that turned Turkey towards its regional neighbors for trade and expansion, a paradigm shift was already underway. But Turkey was still holding onto the role of the ‘model Muslim country’ in many international forums and promoting gender equality was an important component of its image. Thus, the AKP government worked tremendously hard to have the Convention open for signatures in Istanbul and hence coin the convention’s name, a calculated move to gain international leverage and legitimacy.25

However, the government was not so keen on implementation. The only major legislation to protect women from violence following the Convention is Law 6284 which defined economic, psychological, sexual violence as forms of violence towards women and aimed to implement a series of policies including the opening of Violence Prevention and Monitoring Centers (ŞÖNİM) and women shelters in cities across Turkey. It was adopted in March 2012. But mobilization for this Law was already underway by feminists preceding the adoption of the Istanbul Convention.

A month after signing the Istanbul Convention in 2011, AKP replaced the Ministry of Women and Family Affairs with the Ministry of the Family and Social Policies, erasing women from the official title. Similarly, Law 6284 was named the Law to Protect Family and Prevent Violence Against Women - proclaiming that women’s rights were only to be recognized within the constraints of the family. Women were well aware of AKP’s duplicity. In a 2010 meeting with women’s organizations, Erdoğan had not minced words, proclaiming that he “did not believe in equality between women and men”.26

In May 2012, Erdoğan declared that “every abortion is an Uludure” connecting abortion to the bloodiest massacre of AKP’s history until that point27 and urged women to have at least three children so as to build a strong nation, a call he first raised in 2008 and has been repeating with varying degrees of urgency since. Thousands of women took the streets against the anti-abortion law prepared after Erdoğan’s speech. The controversial bill was withdrawn but a de facto ban was put in effect. A study showed that only 7.8 percent of public hospitals in the country allowed abortions to be performed solely at the request of a woman.28

AKP’s politics of gender in this period, despite a few measures deemed progress, relied on neo-liberal and neo-conservative familism. In this sense Kemalist investment in the nuclear family, as the site of production of the modern Turkish subject, was not changed but strengthened through a neo-liberal reconfiguration of the nuclear family. The demise of the welfare state was obfuscated in neo-conservative familism whose strengthening was necessary to fill the gap left by the withdrawal of the state. In this new configuration women remained assigned to their traditional roles as mothers and wives while AKP’s increasing emphasis on fıtrat (Islamic concept of disposition) aimed at ensuring that patriarchy was not only institutional but also a God-given order. As AKP increased its power, women’s empowerment and gender equality was increasingly cast as opposition to the ideology of protecting the family.

Turkey’s Authoritarian Turn: Kayyum Regime

The reasons behind the AKP’s turn toward an ultra-nationalist, anti-Western, ultra-conservative populist politics might be traced back to geopolitical events such as the popular uprisings of the Arab Spring followed by the coup in Egypt against the Muslim Brotherhood or to the Syrian Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) becoming a major regional actor through its fight with ISIS and the possibility of another autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey’s south, and more. Domestically, the Gezi uprising of 2013 that started in Istanbul and spread across the country against AKP policies was probably an alarm bell for Erdoğan. Although the uprising was violently suppressed in a short span of time, by carrying the Gezi spirit into its election campaign and bringing Kurds, socialists, feminists, LGBTQI+ people and other opposition to AKP, the Kurdish affiliated People’s Democratic Party (HDP) received more than 6 million votes in the June 2015 national election, and won 80 seats in parliament. Denied a parliamentary majority, Erdoğan’s plan to transition to an executive presidency regime was effectively squashed at the ballot box.

The retaliation was swift. In a short span of time the country was dragged into turmoil. Several bomb attacks left scores of peaceful protesters dead in Suruç and Ankara. The peace process with the PKK was discarded overnight, and the AKP government started military operations in Kurdish towns in which hundreds died. In November 2015, just five months after the last election, Turkey was forced back to the polls and the AKP through its coalition with Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) regained its majority.

In 2016 a coup attempt against Erdoğan enabled a further AKP counter-offensive, marking Gülenists, former allies, as the ultimate enemy. The AKP declared a state of emergency, seizing and reorganizing state institutions while whipping up populist frenzy against an increasing number of those that it deemed to be foes. Kurds, leftists, and civil society organizations were caught in the crosshairs. Media outlets were closed, women’s and LGBTQI+ organizations were forced to close and Gay Pride was banned and attacked. Hundreds of journalists, human rights defenders, and members of the Kurdish freedom movement, including democratically elected MPs and mayors were put behind bars.

Erdoğan’s kayyum regime began in September 2016 when he assigned kayyums, government appointed trustees, to 28 municipalities, 24 of them Kurdish, by executive order. In the March 2019 local elections, when the HDP won 65 municipalities in the Kurdish regions despite having its leaders and a number of its seasoned organizers in prison, the kayyum regime expanded. Six of these municipalities were seized by Supreme Electoral Board (YSK) orders, and kayyums were assigned to the rest. The AKP bypassed the democratic process, imprisoning municipal politicians and staff and expropriated money from municipal budgets through the kayyums. The seizure of Kurdish municipalities was followed by a constitutional change in 2017 where a presidential system replaced the already weakened parliamentary structure. Erdoğan had seized all remaining control of the state, consolidating his hold on media and financial networks in the country, and concretized a kayyum regime under his one-man rule.

With this authoritative authoritarian turn, women’s and LGBTQI+ rights became a further site of political contestation where anti-gender, homophobic political discourses merged with neo-conservative familism. Long-held women’s rights have been targeted, such as alimony, which is now opposed by conservative groups claiming that it saddles men with excessive financial burdens and that women are enriched after divorce. Erdoğan’s calls on women to have three children morphed into calling women with no children “half-women.” Feminists, lesbians, women’s and LGBTQI+ organizations were singled out in attacks in his speeches as immoral.

While much of this has happened through edicts and proclamations by Erdoğan himself, legislative attacks continued. The women’s movement's fight against underage marriage in particular has been targeted. Imams were given the right to officiate marriages without any requirement for a civil marriage in 2015. An amendment in article 103 of the Turkish penal code introduced a distinction in children’s sexual abuse cases for those above the age of 12 in 2016. A law was passed in 2017 allowing muftis to perform civil marriages in 2017. “Want it or not, this will be passed by Parliament!” announced Erdoğan in response to the protests, a statement that sums up how things work in Turkey’s kayyum regime.

Buoyed by Erdoğan’s statements, organized opposition against the Istanbul Convention grew. Before the presidential elections in 2018, a petition signed by groups close to the AKP warned against the “international assault on the family” which wanted “to destroy all the accounts of values such as religion, morality, father, honor, dignity, tradition and custom.”29 The group demanded the extinguishment of the Istanbul Convention and Law 6284; and the replacement of “gender equality politics with the justice-based politics in which woman will be woman, man will be man and children will be children.”

In 2019, sixty-six Islamic NGOs came together to condemn the Istanbul Convention and urged the government to withdraw. The statement claimed that the concept of gender that the Convention promoted denied the biological sexes of God’s creation and aims at “normalizing homosexuality and other pervert orientations;” that the goal to be achieved with terms such as “gender equality” was the feminization of men, and masculinization of women leading to an increase in divorces. Hüda-Par, an Islamic Kurdish party, announced that the Istanbul Convention was leading to cultural subordination to Europe, threatening society by demonizing men and promoting “hybrid genders”. Conservative media outlets assaulted the Convention every day in different opinion columns. With COVID-19 ravaging Turkey, and the economy in freefall, vast anxieties and anger prevailed that could be pounced on and harnessed. And thus, the stage was set for the withdrawal. But it did not happen without a fight. Starting in the summer of 2020, feminists and LGBTQI+ people launched a massive campaign in support of the Istanbul Convention. Street protests spread to multiple cities, some attacked, social media campaigns galvanized tens of thousands of people including celebrities under the banner #İstanbulConventionSavesLives and engaged new layers of activists.

What must be noted here is that Turkey's withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention did not build on public support, not even from the AKP’s voter base. The government-organised women’s rights NGO, the Women and Democracy Association (KADEM) for instance, made statements in support of the Convention until pressure from anti-gender opposition groups intensified. These groups are not in the majority but are jostling to consolidate power in Erdogan’s kayyum regime.30 They are echoing and mobilizing language and ideas formulated by the Vatican, and in use by the global anti-gender movement both to target the Istanbul Convention and achieve their local ends. In this way, right wing neo-conservative Islamic populism and right-wing neo-conservative Christian populism are coordinating their attacks on women and LGBTQI+ people even as they position themselves against each other.

In this sense, on one hand, Turkey’s withdrawal is a continued turn away from what Europe once represented, as it aligns itself instead with right-wing, neo-conservative populist Europe. On the other, the new anti-gender discourses adopted by the AKP are a continuation of its policies to limit women’s empowerment but go further by harnessing people’s hardships stemming from living in a collapsing regime and an economic downturn to roll-back women’s long held achievements.

What’s next?

If today’s right-wing conservative alliance does not define itself as anti-woman, anti-feminist, and anti-LGBTQI+ but instead as anti-gender, it is due to the extraordinary success of women’s and LGBTQI+ movements to carry the emancipatory concept of gender into legal treaties, mainstream politics and public debates. Yes, the alliance against equality and freedom is larger than ever but gender equality and sexual freedom movements are fighting back in every country that right wing populism has gained a foothold in and elsewhere. The joining of forces between feminist and LGBTQI+ movements, and with other groups struggling for racial, economic, and environmental justice and self-determination is essential to resist this right-wing, neoconservative, neoliberal, populist alliance.

Regarding Turkey, the withdrawal’s immediate effect is the threat posed by anti-gender movements to existing legislation, civil and penal codes, notably Law 6284 and other vested rights. Violence against women rages on, and homophobic and transphobic sentiments and discourses are widespread. In this context, the loss of the Istanbul Convention that proposed a framework to combat these symptoms of heteronormative patriarchy cannot be understated. Women and LGBTQI+ communities are well-aware that they are at a turning point but they are also well-aware that their seized rights are deeply connected with other civil rights and democratic decision-making mechanisms that the current kayyum regime has seized. Hence, the path forward is a united one.

Presidency of the Republic of Türkiye Directorate of Communications, “Statement regarding Turkey’s Withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention,” accessed August 13, 2021, of the Republic of Türkiye Directorate of Communications, “Statement regarding Turkey’s Withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention,” accessed August 13, 2021, word kayyum means government appointed trustee in Turkish.Claudia Ciobanu, “Poland’s replacement for Istanbul Convention Would Ban Abortion and Gay Marriage,” Balkan Insight, March 15, 2021,“Bulgaria Court says ‘Istanbul Convention’ Violates Constitution,” Balkan Insight, July 27, 2018,“Lithuania's religious leaders voice opposition to Istanbul Convention and same-sex partnership,” LRT (Lietuvos radijas ir televizija) English, March 9, 2021, Herd, “The Istanbul Convention & the Czech Republic: Barriers to Ratification,” Young Feminists Europe, January 15, 2019, Radio, “Latvia still not ready to ratify Istanbul Convention,” LSM.LV Public Broadcasting of Latvia, December 3, 2019,“The Latvian Constitutional Court finds that the provisions of the Istanbul Convention comply with the Latvian Constitution,” Council Of Europe News & Events, June 18, 2021, Patricolo, “Slovakia again refuses to ratify Istanbul Convention,” Emerging Europe, November 29, 2019,“Hungary's parliament blocks domestic violence treaty,” The Guardian, May 5, 2020, Anne Case, “Trans Formations in the Vatican’s War on ‘Gender Ideology’.” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 44:3 (2019) 639–664.David Paternotte and Roman Kuhar, “Introduction,” Anti Gender Campaigns in Europe, Mobilizing Against Equality (Rowman and Littlefiled Publishers, 2017).Anne Marie Goetz, “The new cold war on women’s rights?” United Nations Research Institute for Development, accessed August 26, 2021, Graff, Elżbieta Korolczuk, Anti-Gender Politics in the Populist Moment (Routledge, 2021).Weronika Grezebalska, Eszter Kovâts and Andrea Petö, “Gender as symbolic glue: how ‘gender’ became an umbrella term for the rejection of the (neo)liberal order,” Political Critique (January 13, 2017) accessed August 28, 2021, Graff, Elżbieta Korolczuk, Anti-Gender Politics in the Populist Moment (Routledge, 2021).Turkey ratified the Convention in the parliament on November 24, 2011. Approval document was submitted to the Secretariat General of the Commission on March 14, 2012. The Convention entered into force following 10 ratifications on August 1, 2014.See Nükhet Sirman’s discussion on the Republican construction of “familial citizenship” where the ideal citizen is inscribed as a sovereign husband, and the woman/wife as dependent: Nükhet Sirman, “The Making of Familial Citizenship in Turkey.” Citizenship in a Global World: European Questions and Turkish Experiences, Ed. A. Fuat Keyman and Ahmet İçduygu, 147–172. (London: Routledge, 2005)The amendments lifted sentence reduction for so-called honor killings, abolished sentence reduction in cases where the rapist married his victim; redefined rape which was constrained to penetration with penis, criminalized rape in marital relations, lifted the distinctions between virgin and non-virgin women in sex offenses while introducing the term of “offences against sexual integrity.”According to a document signed by the then Minister of Justice Sadullah Ergin. Ceren Satıl, “Türkiye’de Kadın Cinayetleri,” March 8, 2021, more on the Opuz v Turkey case see: Pınar İlkkaracan, “Istanbul Convention”, 5Harfliler, August 15, 2020, Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women, Violence against Women Prevalence Data: Surveys by Country Compiled by UN Women (as of March 2011), accessed on August 28, 2021, scholar Deniz Kandiyoti who sees the heightened violence as a crisis of masculinity suggest that “masculinst restoration comes into place when patriarchy is not fully secure and requires high levels of coercion and the deployment of more varied state apparatuses to ensure its reproduction.” See Deniz Kandiyoti, “Locating the politics of gender: Patriarchy, neo- liberal governance and violence in Turkey,” Research and Policy on Turkey, (2006 1:2) 103–118.Pınar İlkkaracan, “Istanbul Convention”, 5Harfliler, August 15, 2020,“Erdoğan’la açılım buraya kadar: Kadın ve erkek eşit olamaz,” Sol Haber, July 20, 2010, December 28, 2011 Turkish Air Force bombed a group of Kurdish civilians who were smuggling small amounts of gasoline and cigarettes over the Iraq border, killing 34. Afterwards, the Turkish army confessed to mistakenly killing the smugglers, thinking they were PKK members.See “Turkey’s women face dangerous conditions to obtain legal abortion”, January 1, 2019. Deutsche Welle, full text of the petition (in Turkish) that was presented to President Erdoğan can be found on this Facebook page: Alev Özkazanç, “Gender and Authoritarian Populism in Turkey: Two Phases of AKP Rule,” Open Democracy, February 3, 2020,

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