How the Istanbul Convention saves lives

As the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women approaches, disturbing statistics remind us of the urgency to end this violence, and a historic treaty is proving increasingly effective in doing so. end: the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (or Istanbul Convention).

This year, the ratification by the European Union of the Istanbul Convention increased the number of parties and sent a strong message: the fight against violence against women is a common priority in the whole of Europe.

Despite the terrible hardships it is facing due to the war of aggression, Ukraine ratified the treaty last year, as did the Republic of Moldova and the United Kingdom.

This historic Council of Europe convention, which is also open to non-member States, currently has 38 parties who are bound by our treaty and its four essential axes, namely the prevention of violence, the protection of victims, the prosecution of perpetrators and the integration of good, coordinated policies.

The Group of Independent Experts Monitoring the Implementation of the Treaty (GREVIO) found that all the States parties it monitored have taken concrete steps to end violence against women and combat against domestic violence.

As GREVIO reports show, new measures have been put in place to prevent perpetrators of violence from approaching their victims, including new emergency barring orders that allow law enforcement agencies to temporarily evict them from their homes people who have committed domestic violence. These reports are also an invaluable source for the European Court of Human Rights when ruling on cases on this subject.

Monitoring has shown that specialized support services, such as specialized telephone hotlines operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, are increasingly being set up, as are shelters to protect victims. We welcome the change in the legislation of many Member States which bases the definition of rape on the absence of freely expressed consent. This amendment now allows prosecutions to be initiated for acts that could not be criminalized under previous legislation.

The 75th anniversary of the creation of the Council of Europe, based on the European Convention on Human Rights, will be commemorated in 2024. This year will also mark the 10th anniversary of the entry into force, in August 2014, of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

We call on all Council of Europe member states that have not yet done so as well as other interested states outside Europe to adhere to our treaty and join our efforts to end the violence towards women. Progress has certainly been made over the past 10 years, but in a world where one in three women have been victims of violence, we must achieve even more together.

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Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.