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  • Writer's pictureLaci Felker

The Istanbul Convention

Originally published November 4, 2021, with Muses Nest, a defunct online human and woman's magazine.

With the pandemic that brought the world to a halt, many people were forced to stay in their homes and figure out life from within the confines of four walls. There was a Tweet that went around Twitter during the beginning of the lockdown that said to think about the people who would be forced to stay with their abuser when they would otherwise be able to go to work or school. Now, with life going back to a semblance of “normal,” domestic violence has sky-rocketed in the United States, and some countries in Europe are pushing to ratify a treaty to combat gender-based violence while other countries are saying no.

First opened in 2011, the Istanbul Convention is a human rights treaty that aims to combat domestic violence and violence against women. In 2014 Istanbul was the first country to sign and ratify the convention, which led to over thirty other countries in Europe to sign and ratify it as well. The Convention would require countries to make sexual harassment a criminal offense, construct domestic violence shelters for victims, and ban forced-abortion and sterilization practices. Everything that the Convention aims to accomplish seems obvious: give resources to those who need it while protecting half of the population. However, some countries have since backed out of the agreement.

Due to unrest within the conservative parties, some countries have chosen to step away from supporting the ratifying of the Convention, with Turkey even citing that the Convention goes against their family values. While the European Union would like to continue with finally putting the Istanbul Convention in place, without twenty-seven countries agreeing, a decision needs to be made by the Court of Justice.

Recently, the Court of Justice ruled that the European Union can move forward without the twenty-seven signatures, and the decision cannot be appealed or overruled. In 2021, there should not even be a question of if this treaty should be ratified. In fact, it should have been implemented years ago. Women’s rights are, inherently, human rights and there should be no resistance when it comes to giving women the rights they deserve.

Women’s rights have been at the forefront of many marches and debates in recent years, and many would think that since these are modern times there would be equality between everyone in the population, but every day there is always a new hurdle for women to overcome. Many women in Europe have marched in support of the Istanbul Convention and when Turkey decided to pull out of the agreement, there was backlash from women within the country.

Today, there is always progress being made but it’s not easy. In fact, it seems to align perfectly with the saying “one step forward and two steps back,” with the abortion ban in Texas, USA, being another example of just how difficult it is for women to achieve the life they deserve just by being human. With Ministers from various European countries calling for other ministers to sign the treaty, everyone will just have to wait and see what happens with the Istanbul Convention. Those who oppose it are surely fighting an uphill battle, but hopefully it’s one they won’t win.

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