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International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women: Petra Bayr and Evelyn Regner speak out to halt gender-based violence

Joint statement by the chairs of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) and the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality of the European Parliament (FEMM)

On 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the chairs of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly and European Parliament committees on equality and non-discrimination join voices to denounce gender-based violence, calling on parliamentarians all over Europe to do more to protect women and girls from the risks they continue to run in all walks of life, from school and workplace right into their own homes, as well as online.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has shown how fragile the protective safety-net for women and girls victims of violence really is, especially when it comes to domestic violence” said Petra Bayr (Austria, SOC), PACE Equality and Non-Discrimination chair. “The increase in violence during lockdown has been a shocking revelation in almost all our societies; it has put a magnifying glass on the harmful mindsets that still prevail”.

For Evelyn Regner (Austria, S&D), Chair of the European Parliament’s FEMM Committee, “True gender equality is a way to put an end to gender-based violence by ensuring respect between women and men in all their relations. The European Union supports and applauds the achievements of the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention in pushing for change in national policies and legislation. We still have a long way to go, but we are getting there one step at a time.”

Petra Bayr and Evelyn Regner agreed to work together towards a stronger framework of protection, to avoid backlash and promote progress. “We will step up cooperation between our two organisations to ensure effective implementation of the Istanbul Convention. The members of our two parliamentary committees work on many common themes – we need to share the knowledge and experience we are building to propose preventive and protective legislation, as well as sanctions against the perpetrators of violence. At the same time, we will continue promoting and supporting best practices in education and awareness-raising, among men and boys especially, to overcome stereotypes of domination and submission. To make a safer world for women and girls.”

Background

The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, known as the Istanbul Convention, is the most advanced and comprehensive international legal instrument. It establishes a comprehensive framework of measures to prevent such violence, support victims and punish perpetrators.

Although the EU signed the Convention on 13 June 2017, six member states still have not ratified it: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia and the Slovak Republic. Last May, the Hungarian Parliament voted to reject the ratification of the Convention. In July, Polish authorities declared that they intended to withdraw from the Convention, which Poland ratified in 2015. This intention has so far not been given effect.