At its meeting on 21 June, the Parliamentary Network Women Free from Violence held a hearing today on the power of the Istanbul Convention as a tool for protection against violence against women and domestic violence.
Council of Europe's Deputy Secretary General Bjørn Berge emphasized the importance of the Istanbul Convention’s impact on European justice, notably in the support provided by authorities to women facing violence and in the changes seen in criminal justice systems’ ways of dealing with cases of violence against women. He also recalled that the added value of this international legal treaty is undeniable.
Marcella Pirrone, President of Women Against Violence Europe, urged for effective implementation of the convention in order to improve the quality of life of all women. She called on parliamentarians to keep up the pressure so that sufficient funding is allocated to measures aimed at tackling male violence against women, stressing that benefits linked to those investments outweigh the cost of violence.
While underlining the commitment of many member states to the convention and its standards, Hillary Margolis, Senior Researcher at the Women's Rights Division of Human Rights Watch, recalled that no country in the region has fully eradicated gender-based violence. She relayed the words of women’s rights activists and survivors of violence for whom the Istanbul Convention’s binding standards are “a kind of North Star”, and “something that [they] can strive for”. She called on parliamentarians to support them by urging governments to commit to the long-term, systemic changes needed to tackle the chronic, pervasive and wide-ranging issue of violence against women, as well as proactively and publicly supporting the convention and countering misinformation about it.
Ana Sofia Fernandes, President of the Portuguese Platform for Women’s Rights, advocated for a better understanding of the continuum of male violence against women and girls online and offline, allowing for better integrated policies to prevent violence against women and protect its victims. Among other positive outcomes, the ratification of the convention in Portugal opened avenues for the monitoring of public policies by civil society organisations. Increased funding was allocated to shelters and other support services and specialized services were created.
Zita Gurmai (Hungary, SOC), General Rapporteur on Violence against Women and Coordinator of the Network, encouraged parliamentarians everywhere to use the means at their disposal to speed up the ratification and implementation process of the convention and keep all women safe from violence.
The Parliamentary Assembly has marked the 10th anniversary of the Istanbul Convention with an event on this topic on Wednesday 23 June during the plenary session.