I’VE just finished reading a wonderful book called The Daughters Of Kobani. It tells the remarkable story of those Kurdish women who as part of the all-female Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) fought against the Islamic State (IS) group in northern Syria when the jihadists tried to overrun the town from which the book takes its title.

Not only did these women fight on the frontlines to successfully defend Kobani from the horrors and barbarism of IS rule but went on to help liberate the larger city of Raqqa which IS had claimed as the capital of their self-proclaimed caliphate.

But this story is so much more than one about war. It’s a tale for our times of an inspiring revolution in the region the Kurds call Rojava – “land where the sun sets” – where these women spread their own political vision, determined to make women’s equality a reality.

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For the women of Rojava their aim was not just to defeat the reactionary, hierarchical, misogynistic and vehemently anti-democratic diktats espoused by the jihadists of IS.

What these women set out to do went much further, aimed as it was in building a democratic and egalitarian society and to defend women from around the entire region wherever they faced discrimination and persecution.

Their story stands in marked contrast to the decision taken in neighbouring Turkey in March by the country’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan (below) which means that today his country will withdraw from a legally binding Council of Europe treaty known as the Istanbul Convention to tackle violence against women and hold perpetrators to account.

The National: Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

It’s just over a decade ago now since the first 13 countries signed up to the treaty, ironically at a conference in Turkey, giving rise to its title. Up until Turkey’s withdrawal there were 46 signatory countries to what was regarded as a milestone in the fight against gender-based violence and safeguarding the rights of women and girls.

Few were surprised when Erdogan made his announcement in March to pull out of the treaty. He and his government officials after all have for some time publicly and repeatedly made clear that they don’t believe in equality between men and women and have increasingly linked women’s safety to remaining at home with their families and having more children.

Bad enough as Turkey’s decision is, it’s even worse when considered in the context of what many see as a wider and growing opposition to the Istanbul Convention coupled with a rise in the use of gender as a political weapon by authoritarian regimes.

It was only last month that Dubravka Simonovic, the UN’s special rapporteur on violence against women described what she called a “pandemic of violence”, which has seen a marked increase in calls to domestic violence helplines, reports of women missing or killed, and a lack of safe places for those fleeing abuse.

Just casting a glance across the world right now the picture speaks for itself. In the wake of Turkey’s decision to pull out from the treaty the governments of Hungry and Poland got the term “gender equality” removed from an EU social summit in Portugal.

In Ukraine too there has been strong opposition to the signing and ratification of the Convention from religious groups who perceive it to be a threat to “family values”.

The National: Russian President Vladimir Putin

In neighbouring Russia meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin has pushed back on domestic violence laws while in distant India another autocratic leader Prime Minister Narendra Modi has steadfastly opposed criminalising marital rape.

Then we have Afghanistan where the potential and increasingly likely return to power of the Taliban would catastrophically set back gains for women, while in Azerbaijan the regime there has repeatedly suppressed calls to address the widespread abuse of women’s rights.

It’s a worrying pattern and before anyone imagines that things are fine on our own doorstep it’s worth remembering that the UK government nine years after signing up for it has yet to ratify the Istanbul Convention.

It was only a few months ago that the Tory MP and Home Office Minister, Victoria Atkins, stressed that the government would “love” to ratify the treaty but that the “journey to ratification” was still ongoing. Here once again we have the Tory vision of “Global Britain” at work, failing to lead by good example.

LOOKING on from here in Scotland at such another disgraceful negation of the UK’s international obligations and treaty responsibilities only serves to reinforce the case for a politically progressive independent Scotland doing things differently.

There is nothing controversial in the fact that every woman and girl has the right to live free from violence. What possible objection could there be to the provision of a comprehensive support structure for victims of violence?

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The Istanbul Convention was the first legally binding treaty in this area and has had a real and positive impact on the lives of countless women and girls. It’s not just raised awareness but helped create a legislative framework and establish improved policy standards that were long overdue and are needed right now more than ever given the current pattern of threats and gender being used as a weapon.

For time immemorial autocrats, dictators, bullies, have used gender as a strategy in their political arsenal often in the guise of “conservative values”. This week in Turkey under Erdogan it is being used again and women rightly are taking to the streets in protest.

It was back in 2014 when besieged and faced with the monstrous threat of IS rule, that the Kurdish women of Kobani in Syria stood their ground.

Their part in the “Rojava Revolution” as it is sometimes known set an inspirational example in building a society in which women are free from discrimination and persecution and women’s rights respected.

Is it really too much to expect the governments of some nations including the UK right now to sign, ratify, respect, and support the Istanbul Convention? I’d certainly like to think that in an independent Scotland there would be no need to even posit such a question.