Turkish Women Demand Erdogan Rejoin Treaty Against Domestic Abuse

by Hugh Fitzgerald

In mid-March, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Turkey would be withdrawing from the Istanbul Convention, a Council of Europe treaty against domestic abuse of women. The other European signatories were all said to be “stunned” or “appalled” or “amazed” at this move, but if they had looked into the status and treatment of women in Islam, they would not have been surprised at Turkey’s withdrawal from the treaty, but only at its having joined the treaty in the first place. The initial Jihad Watch report on the withdrawal is here. An exploration of the reasoning behind the withdrawal, in an Uzay Bulut article exclusively for Jihad Watch, is here. And a report on the protest by Turkish women against Turkey’s withdrawal is here: “Turkish Women Protest Over Erdogan’s Decision to Exit Domestic Violence Treaty,” Algemeiner, March 28, 2021:

Several thousand women took to the streets in Istanbul on Saturday to demand Turkey reverse its decision to withdraw from an international treaty against domestic violence which it once championed.

Turkey did not ever “champion” the treaty against domestic violence. It merely signed it. The reason for that can only be understood in light of the time and place of its signing. In 2011, the members of the Council of Europe agreed to hold their meeting at which the treaty on domestic abuse would be formally adopted, in Istanbul. Turkey was pleased that its largest city was chosen, which it took as a sign of the Council of Europe’s favor. Turkey was then in the midst of negotiations to join the European Union, and rightly assumed that by signing the Council of Europe treaty, it would likely win points from its fellow signatories, all of whom were also members of the E.U. Besides, it would have been politically most awkward if Turkey, while hosting the meeting on the adoption of the treaty, had refused – alone of all the 47 delegations – to sign it itself.

President Tayyip Erdogan stunned European allies with last week’s, on March 20, announcement that Turkey was pulling out of the Istanbul Convention, named after the Turkish city where it was drafted in 2011.

The Europeans would not have been “stunned” had they been paying attention to Islam, the religion of 99% of Turks.

In the Qur’an, it is declared that “Allah has made men superior to women” (Sura 4:34). The same Qur’anic verse tells Muslim men that they may “beat” their wives if they merely suspect them of being “disobedient.” That is vague enough to provide a broad license for men to physically assault their wives. Some Muslim men do more than that – they believe they have a right to physically punish, and even to kill, their wives and daughters and sisters, should any of them “dishonor the family.” These so-called “honor killings” are not always punished in the most devout Muslim societies, such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, while in other Muslim lands, punishment can be limited to a short prison sentence. Had those Europeans been aware of the Qur’anic claim that “men are superior to women,” that the Muslim holy book gives permission to men to “beat” their wives if they are “suspected of disobedience,” and had they known about all the ways that Islam reinforces the notion of female inferiority, or about the practice of honor killings, they might not have been surprised, much less “stunned,” at Turkey’s withdrawal from the treaty on domestic abuse.

The inferior status of women in Islam is not limited to Qur’an 4:34. Islam is full of commands that uphold that inferiority. In Islam, a woman’s testimony is worth only half that of a man. A daughter inherits only half that of a son. A husband may divorce his wife merely by reciting the triple-talaq; a wife has a much more difficult time to divorce her husband, including having to return property – the “mahr” – that she received from her husband at the time of marriage. The Qur’an sanctions polygyny – that is, one husband can take up to four wives – which devalues women. The barbaric practice of clitoridectomy, inflicted on baby girls, is meant to deprive Muslim women of sexual pleasure. Very young girls can be married off to much older men, of course without their consent, because Muhammad himself, the Perfect Man (al-insan al-kamil) and Model of Conduct (uswa hasana), consummated his marriage to little Aisha when she was nine years old. Ayatollah Khomeini had wanted to lower the marriageable age of girls to nine; in the end, the Iranians lowered the age only to 13, but men wanting to marry girls as young as nine can petition for approval.

And in Turkey, the Diyanet, the state religious body, issued a statement in January 2018 that according to Islamic law, the age of the beginning of adolescence for boys was 12 and for girls nine, and that those reaching the age of adolescence have the right to get married. That is another route to the same goal (of emulating Aisha and Muhammad): legitimizing marriages to nine-year-old girls by lowering the age for the “onset of puberty.”

Turkey was one of the first signatories and women say their safety has been jeopardized by Erdogan’s move against the European treaty.

Amid a heavy police presence, protesters gathered in an Istanbul seafront square waving purple flags and chanting slogans including “Murders of women are political.” One placard read, “Protect women, not the perpetrators of violence.”

Withdrawing from the Istanbul Convention is a disaster for millions of women and children living in this country,” Amnesty International Turkey Director Ece Unver told Reuters, calling for Ankara to reverse its decision.

World Health Organization data shows 38% of women in Turkey are subject to violence from a partner in their lifetime, compared with 25% in Europe.

It is perfectly understandable that women in Muslim Turkey endure violence at a rate 50% higher than that of women in non-Muslim Europe. Qur’an 4:34 allows men to “beat” their wives if they even suspect them of “disobedience.” That sets the tone for male-female relations.

Estimates of femicide rates in Turkey, for which there are no official figures, have roughly tripled over the last 10 years, according to a monitoring group. So far this year 87 women have been murdered by men or died under suspicious circumstances, it said….

The rise in killing of females in Turkey proceeds pari passu with Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s project of re-Islamizing Turkey. The secularists have been defeated, and nearly 200,000 have lost their jobs under Erdogan – professors, lawyers, magistrates, university rectors, journalists. Erdogan has amplified the role of religion by greatly expanding the number of Imam Hatip schools, which began as vocational schools training preachers, but now provide some instruction in secular subjects, but with a heavy dose of religion. There are now more than 4,200 Imam Hatip schools, with about 1.5 million students; in 1974, there were only 34,000 students in Imam Hatip schools. It is in these schools that Turks learn the proper – i.e., Islamic — and therefore inferior, status of girls and women.

The protesters’ concerns were echoed by Ankara’s Western allies, who denounced what they described as a baffling and unwarranted decision which risked undermining the rights of Turkish women.

All those Council of Europe members were “stunned” when Turkey withdrew from the treaty; they found the decision “baffling.”

Where have we heard those words used recently? From the police in Boulder, Colorado, who have declared themselves “baffled” as they continue, weeks after the mass murder, to “look for a motive” that can possibly explain why a man named Ahmad Al Issa, born in Syria but raised in America, murdered ten people he did not know. The police and the FBI look and look and do not find what prompted him. And similarly puzzled, amazed, flabbergasted, baffled, stunned, are the European nations at Turkey for pulling out of the Council of Europe Treaty on Domestic Abuse. No one can figure out why.

They should be reminded of Islam’s stand on “domestic abuse” and on the status of women, as explained in the two paragraphs above. Given the facts about the inferior status of women in Islam, no one in the Council of Europe should have been “stunned” or “baffled” by Turkey’s withdrawal from the treaty. And the fact that in Turkey there were only a “few thousand” women and girls who came out to protest the government’s decision – in a city with more than 15 million people – shows both a lack of support for their view among the general population, and the fear that Erdogan’s ruthless regime, that has not hesitated to discharge, or imprison, its perceived enemies, has instilled in so many of its citizens.

That Turkish withdrawal from the Council of Europe’s treaty on domestic abuse is one more reason why the Council should expel Turkey as “not sharing the fundamental values” of the organization’s other members. Islam need not be mentioned by name, but it will be clear what it is that has made Turkey, reverting to pre-Kemalist type, the “odd man out” of Europe. And from that decision another should flow, this one by the European Union, which can finally put paid to the interminable negotiations with Turkey over its possible entry as a member. It simply does not belong in any kind of European organization; Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been re-Islamizing Turkey so profoundly that it now has little in common with the civilization of Europe. Who needs 80 million more Muslims inside the E.U. tent, and traveling freely through the E.U.’s Schengenland? Let it go.

First published in Jihad Watch.


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