What is the Istanbul Convention?

What is istanbul contract
What is istanbul contract

The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, or known as the Istanbul Convention, is an international human rights convention that sets the basic standards in the prevention and combat against violence against women and domestic violence and the obligations of states in this regard.

The Convention is supported by the Council of Europe and legally binds the states parties. The four basic principles of the contract; It is the implementation of policies that include holistic, coordinated and effective cooperation in the field of prevention of all kinds of violence against women and domestic violence, protection of victims of violence, prosecution of crimes, punishment of criminals and combating violence against women. It is the first binding international regulation that defines violence against women as a human rights violation and a type of discrimination. The commitments made by the parties under the contract are followed by GREVIO, the independent expert group.

Scope and importance

During the contract negotiations, many international treaties and recommendations of the United Nations (UN) were evaluated and the draft of the convention was prepared. In the introduction part of the contract, the negative situations caused by the causes and consequences of violence are evaluated. Accordingly, violence against women is defined as a historical phenomenon, and it is mentioned that violence stems from power relations that arise in the axis of gender inequality. This imbalance causes discriminatory treatment of women. In the text, which defines gender as a state of behavior and action designed by the society, violence against women is considered as a violation of human rights and it is stated that situations such as violence, sexual abuse, harassment, rape, forced and early marriage and honor killings make women "the other" in the society. Although the definition of violence in the convention is similar to the 19th recommendation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the definition of the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence Against Women, the phrases of psychological violence and economic violence have also been added. The recommendation of the Convention on this issue is that ensuring the equality of women and men will prevent violence against women. Following this definition, the convention imposes an obligation on states parties to prevent violence. In the explanatory text, it is emphasized that no discrimination should be made in situations such as gender, sexual orientation, sexual identity, age, health and disability status, marital status, immigration and refugee status. In this context, considering that women are exposed to more violence in the family than men, it is stated that support services should be established for women victims, special measures should be taken and more resources should be transferred, and it is pointed out that this situation is not discrimination for men.

Although there are many international regulations prohibiting violence or discrimination against women in international law, the Istanbul Convention has a distinctive feature with its scope and the control mechanism it has established. The convention includes the most comprehensive definitions of violence against women and gender-based discrimination ever made.


The Istanbul Convention imposes the responsibility of the signatory states to produce and implement policies that are inclusive on the axis of gender equality, to establish more economic resources to achieve this, to collect and share statistical data on the extent of violence against women, and to create a social mentality change that will prevent violence. The basic expectation and condition in this obligation is that it should be established without any discrimination. In this context, states parties should raise awareness and cooperate with non-governmental organizations and relevant institutions in order to prevent violence. In addition, training, establishment of expert staff, preventive intervention and treatment processes, involvement of the private sector and the media, the right of victims to receive legal aid and the provision of monitoring board mechanisms are under the responsibility of the states parties.

Although the convention is mainly aimed at preventing violence against women, it covers all members of the household as stated in Article 2. Accordingly, the Convention aims not only against women but also against violence against children and child abuse. Article 26 has been determined within this scope, and according to the article, states parties should protect the rights of children who are victims of violence, provide legal regulations and psycho-social counseling services, and take preventive and protective measures against negative situations. Article 37 states the obligation to establish legal grounds for criminalizing child and forced marriages.

The Convention, consisting of 12 articles divided into 80 sections, generally advocates the principles of Prevention, Protection, Judgment / Prosecution and Integrated Policies / Support Policies.


The Convention also draws attention to “women” from victims of violence based on the current situation in gender, gender imbalance and power relations, and includes the protection of children. The term woman in the convention covers not only adults but also girls under the age of 18 and determines the policies to be implemented in this direction. Prevention of violence is the primary emphasis of the convention. In this direction, it expects the state parties to end all kinds of thought, culture and political practices that make women more disadvantaged in the social structure. In this context, it is under the obligation of the state party to prevent the thought patterns, culture, custom, religion, tradition or concepts such as "so-called honor" from being grounds for common violence and to take preventive measures. It is stated that these preventive measures should be based on fundamental human rights and freedoms as a reference point.

In the convention, the states parties oblige to disseminate and implement campaigns and programs that raise public awareness about the effects of violence and violence on women and children in cooperation with various organizations (such as NGOs and women's associations). In this direction, following the curriculum and syllabuses that will create social awareness at all levels of educational institutions in the country, providing social awareness against violence and in the processes of violence; It is stated that expert staff should be formed in the fields of prevention and detection of violence, equality of women and men, the needs and rights of victims as well as prevention of secondary victimization. The parties have the responsibility to take legal measures to prevent and prevent recurrence of domestic violence and sexual crimes, and at the same time, the private sector, the information sector and the media will encourage the creation and implementation of policies and the setting of self-regulatory standards to prevent violence against women and increase respect for women's dignity.

Protection and support

The protection and support section of the convention emphasizes the measures to be taken to prevent the recurrence of negative situations experienced by the victims and the necessity of support services after the victimization experienced. Legal measures to be taken for the protection and support of victims of violence are included in the IV. Determined in the department. States parties should protect and support victims and witnesses against violence outlined in the convention, while effective and effective cooperation should be established with state institutions such as judicial units, prosecutors, law enforcement agencies, local administrations (governorships, etc.), NGOs and other relevant organizations. In the protection and support phase, the focus should be on basic human rights and freedoms and safety for victims. This part of the convention also includes an article on supporting women who are victims of violence and aiming for their economic independence. States parties should inform victims of their legal rights and the support services they can receive, while this should be done “on time”, it is also expected to be adequate in understandable language. Examples of support services that victims can receive are also provided in the contract. In this framework, it is stated that the victims should be provided with legal and psychological counseling (expert support), economic assistance, accommodation, health care, education, training and employment when necessary. Article 23 emphasizes that women's shelters should be suitable and sheltered for women and children, and that victims can easily benefit from these services. The next item is the advice of telephone helplines where victims of violence can get uninterrupted support.

The obligation to provide protection and support services for victims of sexual violence must be fulfilled by States parties. Providing medical and forensic medical examinations to victims of sexual violence, providing support and counseling services for the trauma experienced, and establishing easily accessible crisis centers for rape victims are listed as legal measures expected from states parties. Likewise, it is among the legal measures required by the convention to encourage the transmission of the violence outlined and possible victimizations (potential victimizations), regardless of the type, to the authorized institutions and to provide a suitable environment. In other words, victims of violence and those who feel threatened are encouraged to report their situation to the authorities. In addition, there should be no obstacle to notifying the authorized higher institutions of the evaluations that "such an act of violence has been committed and subsequent serious acts of violence", following the formation of the expert cadres specified in the "Prevention" section. The importance of these evaluations in terms of preventing the victimization experienced and possible victimization is also mentioned in Article 28. Legal measures to be taken for child witnesses of violence and support services to be implemented are also addressed in Article 26.

Legal measures

Legal remedies and measures regarding the principles set out in the contract are specified in Chapter V. In this context, states parties should allow the victim to receive all kinds of legal support against the aggressor. General principles of international law should be taken as reference in this program. Parties should take legal measures to remove the perpetrator of violence in order to protect the victim or the person at risk in situations involving risk. In addition, the parties are obliged to make legal arrangements to ensure that the details of the victim's sexual history and behavior are not included during the investigation unless they are relevant to the case.

The convention provides for victims of violence the right to compensation against perpetrators, states parties should take legal measures for this right. If the perpetrator or public health and social insurance (SSI, etc.) does not cover the damage caused by violence, and in case of serious bodily injury or mental illness, adequate state compensation should be provided to the victim. In this context, it is also possible for the Parties to demand that the compensation in question be reduced by the amount awarded by the perpetrator, provided that due attention is paid to the safety of the victim. If the subject of the victim of violence is a child, legal measures should be taken to determine the custody of the child and visiting rights. In this context, the parties are obliged to ensure the safety of the victims during the custody and visit processes. Articles 32 and 37 emphasize legal measures to annul and terminate child and early marriages and forced marriages. Article 37 obliges a criminal act against forcing a child or an adult into marriage. While forcing and encouraging a woman to perform circumcision are among the examples of violence outlined in the convention; Forcing and exposing a woman to abortion without obtaining her prior informed consent and deliberately terminating the natural reproductive capacity of a woman in these processes are also defined as acts that require criminal legal measures. States parties are obliged to take measures against these situations.

Measures against sexual violence

Responsibility by States parties for harassment, its various types, and the criminal response of psychological violence, physical violence and rape are contained in Articles 33 to 36 and Articles 40 and 41 of the convention. Accordingly, the parties have to take legal measures against coercion and threats that will disrupt the mental state of individuals. States parties should take legal measures against all forms of harassment that make individuals feel unsafe. It is the obligation of the parties to take effective legal measures to punish the perpetrators against all kinds of sexual violence, including rape. Article 36, which deals with this obligation, states that "to perform a sexual, vaginal, anal or oral penetration with another person, using any body part or object, without their consent" and "to engage in other sexual acts with a person without their consent". Forcing, encouraging, and attempting a sexual act with a third person without their consent are framed as actions that should be punished.

Violate the honor of the individual and carried out for this purpose; Situations and environments that are degrading, hostile, insulting, humiliating or offensive, as well as verbal or non-verbal or physical behaviors of a sexual nature are defined as negative situations in which the parties must provide criminal sanctions and take legal measures.

Holistic policies

The Istanbul Convention imposes the obligation on state parties to take legal action against all kinds of violence that it defines and outlines. A more comprehensive and coordinated state policy implementation program is shared for a long-term and effective solution to violence. At this point, the "measures" to be taken should be a part of comprehensive and coordinated policies. The program emphasizes the allocation of financial and human resources, and effective cooperation with non-governmental organizations that combat violence against women. The parties should determine or establish an "institution" responsible for the coordination / implementation / monitoring and evaluation of policies and measures to prevent and combat violence, the content of which is determined by the convention.

Sanctions and measures

It is generally stated in every main heading and article that the states parties should take preventive / protective legal measures against the violence outlined in the convention. These measures should be effective, proportionate and deterrent against the crimes identified. Likewise, the monitoring and control of convicted offenders has been shown as an example within the scope of other measures that states parties can take. If the victim is a child and the child's safety is not provided, there is also a recommendation to take custody rights.

There are also references to the proportion and weight of legal measures to be taken in the contract. Accordingly, in case the crime is committed against the spouse, ex-spouse or cohabiting individual, by a family member, by someone living with the victim or someone who abuses his / her authority, the penalty weight should be increased by the following factors: repetition of the crime or crimes, committed against individuals who have become vulnerable for reasons, the crime is committed against or in the presence of the child, the crime is committed against two or more perpetrators in an organized manner, "in the case of extreme violence before or during the commission of the crime", if the offense caused serious physical and psychological harm to the victim, if the perpetrator was convicted of similar crimes before.

Signing and entering into force

The Convention was adopted at the 121st meeting of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, held in Istanbul. [20] Since it was opened for signature in Istanbul on May 11, 2011, it is known as the “Istanbul Convention” and entered into force on 1 August 2014. Turkey signed the first contract on 11 May 2011 and was the first country to ratify in parliament on 24 November 2011. The approval document was submitted to the General Secretariat of the Council of Europe on 14 March 2012. Signed by 2020 countries and the European Union as of July 45, it was ratified in 34 of the signatory countries.

Sides Signature Confirmation Take effect
Arnavutluk 19/12/2011 04/02/2013 01/08/2014
Andorra 22/02/2013 22/04/2014 01/08/2014
Ermenistan 18/01/2018
Austria 11/05/2011 14/11/2013 01/08/2014
Belçika 11/09/2012 14/03/2016 01/07/2016
Bosnia and Herzegovina 08/03/2013 07/11/2013 01/08/2014
Bulgaria 21/04/2016
Hırvatistan 22/01/2013 12/06/2018 01/10/2018
Cyprus 16/06/2015 10/11/2017 01/03/2018
Çek Cumhuriyeti 02/05/2016
Danimarka 11/10/2013 23/04/2014 01/08/2014
Estonya 02/12/2014 26/10/2017 01/02/2018
Avrupa Birliği 13/06/2017
Finlandiya 11/05/2011 17/04/2015 01/08/2015
Fransa 11/05/2011 04/07/2014 01/11/2014
Georgia 19/06/2014 19/05/2017 01/09/2017
Almanya 11/05/2011 12/10/2017 01/02/2018
Yunanistan 11/05/2011 18/06/2018 01/10/2018
Macaristan 14/03/2014
İzlanda 11/05/2011 26/04/2018 01/08/2018
Irlanda 05/11/2015 08/03/2019 01/07/2019
İtalya 27/09/2012 10/09/2013 01/08/2014
Letonya 18/05/2016
Liechtenstein 10/11/2016
Litvanya 07/06/2013
Luxembourg 11/05/2011 07/08/2018 01/12/2018
Malta 21/05/2012 29/07/2014 01/11/2014
moldova 06/02/2017
Monaco 20/09/2012 07/10/2014 01/02/2015
Montenegro 11/05/2011 22/04/2013 01/08/2014
Hollanda 14/11/2012 18/11/2015 01/03/2016
Northern Macedonia 08/07/2011 23/03/2018 01/07/2018
Norveç 07/07/2011 05/07/2017 01/11/2017
Polonya 18/12/2012 27/04/2015 01/08/2015
Portekiz 11/05/2011 05/02/2013 01/08/2014
Romania 27/06/2014 23/05/2016 01/09/2016
San Marino 30/04/2014 28/01/2016 01/05/2016
Serbia 04/04/2012 21/11/2013 01/08/2014
Slovakya 11/05/2011
Slovenya 08/09/2011 05/02/2015 01/06/2015
İspanya 11/05/2011 10/04/2014 01/08/2014
İsveç 11/05/2011 01/07/2014 01/11/2014
İsviçre 11/09/2013 14/12/2017 01/04/2018
Turkey 11/05/2011 14/03/2012 01/08/2014
Ukrayna 07/11/2011
United Kingdom 08/06/2012

Monitoring committee

The commitments made by the Contracting States under the agreement are monitored and audited by the "Group of Experts on Action Against Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence" known as GREVIO, an independent group of experts. GREVIO's jurisdiction is determined by Article 66 of the Convention. The first meeting was held in Strasbourg on September 21-23, 2015. The Committee has 10-15 members depending on the number of states parties, and the gender and geographical balance is tried to be observed among the members. The experts on the committee are members with interdisciplinary expertise on human rights and gender equality. The top 10 GREVIO members were elected on May 4, 2015 for a five-year term. Feride Acar was the chairman of the committee for two terms between 2015-2019. The number of committee members was increased to fifteen on May 24, 2018. The committee started its first country evaluations in March 2016. The Committee today Albania, Austria, Finland, Malta, Poland, France, published reports on the situation in numerous countries such as Turkey and Italy are available. Marceline Naudi is the current chairman of the committee, and the committee's tenure in this term is determined as 2 years.


The supporters of the convention accuse the opponents of misleading the public opinion by distorting the articles of the Convention. In a press release published in November 2018, the Council of Europe stated that despite the “clearly stated purpose of the convention”, extreme conservative and religious groups are voicing distorted narratives. In this context, it was stated that the convention only aims to prevent violence against women and domestic violence, does not impose a specific life and acceptance and does not interfere with private life styles. In addition, it was pointed out that the Convention is not about ending sexual differences between men and women, that the text does not imply the "sameness" of men and women, and that there is no definition of family in the contract and there is no incentive / guidance on this issue. Against controversial distortions, the Council also published a question-answer booklet on the convention.

Among the states that have signed the convention but not put it into effect are Armenia, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Moldova, Slovakia, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. Slovakia refused to ratify the contract on February 26, 2020, and Hungary on May 5, 2020. In July 2020 Poland started the legal process to withdraw from the Convention. Tens of thousands of protesters demonstrated, claiming that the decision would weaken women's rights. There was a reaction to Poland from the Council of Europe and its parliamentarians.


Turkey Istanbul Convention's first signatory of Turkey Grand National Assembly on 24 November 2011 and the government accepted 247 of the 246 deputies vote, one deputy with the issuance abstentions "endorsing", said in a statement the Ministry of undergoing the first country olmuştur.dışiş from parliament, the European Presidency of the Council signed the contract while it is in Turkey, "said the first international document against women in the field of violence the country has played a leading role in the negotiation process by our contract." statement was included. The bill, sent to Parliament by the Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey's justification for the preparation and finalization of the contract "leading role" was pointed out to play. On the justification that "being a party to the convention will not bring an additional burden to our country and will contribute positively to the developing international reputation of our country", the obligations of the convention were also listed. 1 Orange says an editorial by Erdogan on the occasion of International Women's Day magazine, Turkey's contract "without reservation" signature he put it, in many countries, "economic crisis," said the Due out the harmonization laws that removed by 2015 numbered Protection Law in Turkey. On the other hand, Fatma Şahin, Minister of Family and Social Policies, made a statement about being a party to the Convention, "It is an important will, and it is our duty to do what is necessary." He stated that the action plan was prepared in the National Action Plan for Combating Violence Against Women (6284-2012) that will cover the period between 2015-2012 in response to the new developments and needs of the Ministry, with the expression "in the light of the Convention".

3 has released the first report on GREVIO to Turkey in July 2017. While expressing satisfaction for the positive steps taken in the report, the deficiencies in legal regulations, policies and measures to end violence against women were emphasized and suggestions were made for more effective implementation of the convention. Concern was expressed that the lack of judicial data on the prosecution and punishment of perpetrators, sexist prejudices in violence against women and victim charges led to a reduction in trials. In the report, it was stated that the measures taken to protect women from violence are progressing, and it was emphasized that the state of impunity has become permanent, and it was stated that a more intense effort is required in the fight against violence against women, prevention, protection, prosecution, and holistic policies. In the report, it was pointed out that the victims had a hesitation in reporting their grievances to the authorities, feared the repetition of stigma and violence, and that there was no significant progress in encouraging feedback and effective struggle. The impact of the lack of economic independence of the victims, the lack of literacy in the legal texts, and the distrust of the judicial and prosecution authorities were pointed out in the reporting of violent incidents to the authorities. In particular, it was pointed out that rape and sexual violence cases are "almost never reported by the victims".

In Turkey, about killings and female victimization experienced by women in violence as defined under the contract directly to the achievement of statistical data, there are some known problems and real data. The data on this issue are mainly based on shadow reports of associations fighting violence against women, non-governmental organizations and some media outlets. GREVIO also examines the shadow reports prepared in the party countries. Turkey Feride Acar, one of the authors of the Convention GREVIO after two terms as president, has proposed to Turkey Askin Asan Asan committee member and has been involved in the committee's membership. Women's associations had also called for Acar to be proposed as a member before this candidacy and reacted to Asan's candidacy.

In February 2020 Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was brought up by the Convention will be reviewed. In the same period and in the following period, while publications and propagandas were made in some conservative media organs and religious communities that the Convention "disrupted the Turkish family structure" and "prepared a legal basis for homosexuality", it was stated that the AK Party women deputies opposed the step back from the contract and that "there was an attempt to create a wrong perception in the public opinion about the contract." “A report about what he expressed to the President was reflected in the press. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in July 2020, “If the people want, remove it. If the public demand is to be lifted, a decision should be made accordingly. Whatever the people say, it will happen ”. Immediately after Numan Kurtulmuş said, "Just as this contract is signed by fulfilling the procedure, the contract will be terminated by fulfilling the procedure", the Convention started to take place widely in the public and political agenda. This range metropolises Research 2018 Turkey's general elections on the political leanings by his public opinion approval to withdraw from the agreement of the people 64% of the research, the AK Party, 49.7% of those who approve the withdrawal from the contract voters and announced that he declare to the idea of ​​cutting 24,6'lık%. It was shared that there were too many disapproving people among other party voters. increase in murders of women in Turkey in the period when these discussions, Emine Clouds and Spring Gideon murder as many after the case with social impact "Istanbul Convention is Alive" campaign was held and organized mass protests.


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