As SU Gender, we stand for the Istanbul Convention being fully and effectively implemented without compromise, in order to prevent violence against women and gender based violence. In Turkey, according to data gathered by different women’s rights associations, during June 2020, 27 women were killed, 23 women were found suspiciously dead, and at least 61 women were subjected to violence. In 2019 and 2018, 474 and 440 women were killed by men. While violence against women and gender based discrimination continue impacting all areas of life, we are recently witnessing with concern that Civil Law rights including inheritance, ownership and alimony are being questioned and opened up for discussion.  

What is the Istanbul Convention? 

The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, is an international convention that defines violence against women as a human right’s violation and consists of four main pillars, including  prevention, protection, prosecution and support. Because the convention was launched for signature in Istanbul in 2011, it was thereafter referred to as the “Istanbul Convention.” It guarantees the implementation of all provisions under the four main pillars and identifies the responsibilities of state authorities, employees, bodies,  institutions and other actors. Under the Convention, domestic violence (physical, sexual, psychological and economic), stalking, sexual violence, sexual harassment, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, forced abortion are all defined as crimes. Turkey was the first country to ratify the Convention in 2012, which today has been signed by 45 countries. 


The Istanbul Convention saves lives because: 

1) It aims to end violence against women: It carries the goals of protecting women against all forms of violence, and aims to prevent, prosecute and end domestic violence. 

2) It aims to end discrimination: It guarantees that provisions of the Convention are to be implemented without discrimination based on sex, race, language, religion, political or other opinion, nationality or ethnicity, minority status, property ownership, place of birth, sexual orientation, gender identity, health status, disability, marriage status, migrant or refugee or any other status. 

3) It promotes women’s empowerment: States party to the agreement must take the necessary legal and administrative steps to facilitate the access of victims of violence to supportive services (legal and psychological consulting services, financial assistance, housing, education, training and employment). 

4) It aims for the establishment of women’s shelters: Member States must establish a sufficient number of easily accessible shelters targeted especially at women and child victims of violence.

5) It bans forced marriages: All such marriages are to be made illegal and nullified by Member States, and forcefully marrying an adult or child is to be made punishable. 

6) It bans forced abortions: The Convention bans all operations realized without prior consent of women that are done to either terminate a woman’s natural capacity to reproduce or give rise to such an outcome. 

7) It aims for the establishment of Rape Crisis and Sexual Violence Referral Centers:  Member States are obliged to ensure the establishment of a sufficient number of easily accessible and appropriate centers providing victims immediate medical and forensic examinations, trauma support and counselling services. 

8) It aims to end sexual harassment: It introduces the necessary legal provisions that guarantee criminal or other legal sanctions against all kinds of unwanted verbal or non-verbal sexual acts or physical behavior. 

For the full text of the Istanbul Convention, see: https://www.coe.int/fr/web/conventions/full-list/-/conventions/rms/09000...

For the European Commission’s informative leaflet on the Istanbul Convention, see: https://ec.europa.eu/justice/saynostopvaw/downloads/materials/pdf/istanb...  

We are here to keep the Istanbul Convention alive!

As SU Gender, we have been working since 2006 on raising gender-based awareness, preventing gender based violence and sexual harassment, and promoting gender equality in education, and higher education in particular. We have been organizing many events bringing together scholars, teachers, civil society and private sector employees with the aim of fighting against all forms of discrimination. 

The Istanbul Convention, which urges States to take responsibility in preventing violence against women and gender based violence, was born out of the struggles of women across the  world against gender inequality. We stand for its full, uncompromised and effective implementation!  #İstanbulSözleşmesiYaşatır IİstanbulConventionSavesLives


Sabancı University Gender and Women’s Studies Center of Excellence (SU Gender)




Tuesday, July 28, 2020