ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkey's withdrawal on Thursday from an international treaty to prevent violence against women is not a step backwards, President Tayyip Erdogan said, defending a move which has drawn condemnation from many Turks and Western allies.
"Some circles are trying to portray our withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention as a step backwards in our battle with violence against women," he told an action plan meeting in Ankara.
"Our battle did not start with the Istanbul Convention and it will not end with our withdrawal from the treaty," he said of the pact that was first forged and signed in Turkey's largest city in 2011.
Erdogan announced in March the decision to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention. The move only took effect on Thursday, with thousands set to protest it across Turkey later in the day.
(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu and Ece Toksabay; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Jonathan Spicer)