Maltese MEPs have reacted to Turkey’s withdrawal from a landmark convention to protect women’s rights this week, warning of dire consequences for women across the globe.
First Vice-President to the European Parliament Roberta Metsola told Lovin Malta that the news of its withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention is “surprising and saddening.”.
“The content of the Convention certainly does not merit the controversy that surrounds it. It is about stopping violence against girls and women. It is not about anything else and as European lawmakers we need to keep pushing back against that false narrative,” Metsola said.
“When one in three women in the EU has been subjected to violence, we need to push back harder against these crimes. We need to make it easier for women to report attacks and we need to make the perpetrators face justice. This should not be controversial.”.
The pioneering treaty, signed in Istanbul, is also known as the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence. It is the first legally binding international instrument intended to protect women and children from violence. Turkey’s withdrawal, combined with Poland’s plans to follow suit, has sparked a wave of anger at a time when attacks are on the rise.
MEP Cyrus Engerer added that this trend “sets an incredibly dangerous precedent for women and minorities all across the world”.
“What is additionally worrying is the alternatives that have been put in place by these governments to make up for the withdrawal from the international human rights treaty,” Engerer told this newsroom.
Engerer explained that in Poland, a recently tabled draft bill, intended to replace the Istanbul Convention, looks to place a ban on marriage equality for LGBT+ people.
“Additionally, it is being said that Poland has also sent a letter to Croatia, Czechia, Slovakia and Slovenia to create an alternative to the Istanbul Convention which ensures that ‘the concept of marriage remains reserved exclusively for the relationship of a woman and a man”, he warned.
“We must remember, as human beings, we are not free until all of us are free – and while the withdrawal of Turkey and Poland from the Istanbul convention will not affect Maltese people directly, the decision has grave implications for all the women in Europe and women’s rights across the world,” Engerer finished.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced his decision to withdraw from the treaty on Tuesday, following pressure from conservative groups. Turkey became a candidate nation to join the EU 22 years ago, but the road to accession has frozen after threats to democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights in the country.
Since then, frictions between the EU and Turkey are mounting, over issues like the divided island of Cyprus, the refugee crisis and repeated crackdowns on freedom of speech in the country.
This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.
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