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Opening of sitting No. 22

Election of a Vice-President of the Assembly

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

15:34:46

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The meeting is now in session.

The next item is the Election of a Vice-President of the Assembly in respect of the Russian Federation.

We will proceed to a vote by secret ballot under the usual conditions under the supervision of two tellers.

The candidate is Mr Léonid SLUTSKY.

Under Rule 16.5 of the Rules of Procedure, an absolute majority of the representatives of the Assembly –159 votes, the Assembly containing 317 parliamentarians to date– is required in the first ballot. I therefore ask you, of course, to participate in large numbers in the first round of voting. This will be closed at the end of the session. The vote will take place in the rotunda behind the Presidency, and I will first, as usual, draw lots for the names of the two tellers responsible for counting the votes.

– Mr HUSEYNOV.

– Mrs Doreen MASSEY, teller with Mr HUSEYNOV.

I would like to remind our two tellers that they must be in the rotunda behind the Presidency at the end of the meeting, and I would like to inform you that the ballot is open.

We continue our work. Meanwhile, the next item of business this afternoon is the presentation of and debate on two reports from the Commission on equality and non-discrimination. The first, presented by Mrs Zita GURMAI, deals with the Istanbul Convention on Violence against Women, achievements and challenges; the second, presented by Ms Elvira KOVÁCS, is entitled Towards an ambitious Council of Europe policy agenda for gender equality.

We begin with the presentation of the report on the Istanbul Convention. Mrs GURMAI, you have a total speaking time of 13 minutes, which you can divide at your convenience between the presentation of your report and the reply to the interventions.

Madam Rapporteur, you have the floor.

Joint debate: The Istanbul Convention on violence against women: achievements and challenges / Towards an ambitious Council of Europe agenda for gender equality

Ms Zita GURMAI

Hungary, SOC, Rapporteur 

15:37:41

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Dear colleagues,

I am honoured to be in plenary today to present my report and have a joint debate, together with our Chairperson, Elvira KOVACS, on topics which are central to our work: combating violence against women and calling for gender equality.

We have both been parliamentarians and advocates for women’s rights for many years and this debate is not only an opportunity to take stock of what has been done in past years but also to be ambitious and call for more action in the future.

We have an opportunity today to reaffirm how important the Convention is and why we should support it.

We have an opportunity to present the achievements and successes reached since the entry into force of the Convention, a bit less than five years ago.

Ratifying the Istanbul Convention means to take actions, all policy, legislative and institutional level to prevent and combat violence against women.

Thirty-three Council of Europe Member States have ratified the Convention, eleven have signed it, as well as the European Union. Two member States have neither signed, nor ratified.

Made in Europe, it is not meant for Europe only.

The Istanbul Convention, which is the most comprehensive and advanced international legal instrument on combating violence against women, to date, can be used as a universal standard. It can be ratified by non-Council of Europe Member States.

I very much welcome the fact that both the Finnish and French presidencies of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe have made combating violence against women and promoting the Istanbul Convention as a priority. France even called for a universalisation of the Convention at the Commission on the Status of Women in March this year.

Concretely, since its entry into force in 2014, the Istanbul Convention has already had a tangible and positive impact which needs to be highlighted:

- It has contributed to saving hundreds of lives;

- It has served as a basis for the introduction of new criminal offences of forced marriage, stalking and female genital mutilation in several countries;

- It has led to the modification of law provisions concerning rape;

- It has set high legislative and policy standards;

- It has contributed to raising awareness on the urgent need to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence.

The Istanbul Convention helps us all understand that violence against women is not a private matter. It also helps us understand what are the different forms of violence and what can be done to protect and support the victims.

Campaigning for the signature and ratification of the Istanbul Convention have provided an opportunity to discuss the extent of violence against women, its manifestations and what can be done to prevent it. They also led to discussions on the support provided to victims of violence and on what can be done so as to improve it.

Let me remind you that this Assembly has played an instrumental role, calling for such a Convention to be drafted and then promoting its ratification via its members in national parliaments and with activities of the Parliamentary Network Women Free from Violence and of its General Rapporteur on violence against women.

In addition, at national level, parliamentarians have played an important role in raising awareness on the need to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence, by asking questions on the possible ratification of the Convention, by triggering discussions in parliament, in public meetings and in the media, by asking for the allocation of sufficient resources for assistance services for women victims of violence.

I am completely convinced that we can do more and I look forward to participating in future activities of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination of the Network.

We need to be proactive. Please be proactive - and don't speak when I speak - at national and international level, even more now, at a time when there are attacks against the Convention.

You may be aware that the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women, known as the Istanbul Convention, is attacked on several fronts in Council of Europe Member States.

It is seen as an attack on so-called traditional or family values, it would supposedly promote a third-gender or same-sex marriage. It is called a threat to our societies.

I am standing in front of you today to tell you that this is not the case.

There no hidden agenda.

In my view, the Istanbul Convention is attacked for what constitutes its major strength: it calls for the end of patriarchal mentalities and attitudes which relegate women to a subordinate status in all aspects of life.

It calls for real equality between women and men.

It calls for the basic human rights of women to leave a life free of violence.

The Istanbul Convention is not the only instrument being attacked. Several acquis in the field of women’s rights are being threatened. We have all heard of a backlash against women’s rights.

But we will do everything we can not to let it happen.

At the Commission on the Status of Women in March in New York this year, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for a “pushback against the pushback” on gender equality. He was supported in this call by the President of the Assembly, special thanks for our President, and I would like to thank you wholeheartedly for your strong support and commitment for promotion and protecting women’s rights throughout your mandate and your whole career.

The media has also a very important role to play. It should focus on and encourage public debates on the root causes of violence against women and how to tackle them, the positive changes that the Convention is bringing to women’s lives and counter the negative narrative about the Convention.

As legislators, we have a strong tool in our hands and need to reaffirm our support for the Istanbul Convention, continue promoting its ratification and follow-up on its implementation. We need to work together with the members of the GREVIO. We need to ask for improvements in the legislation and in the structures helping victims of violence. We need to react to attacks against the Convention.

 

Dear Colleagues,

Violence against women is a human rights violation; a form of gender-based discrimination; a root cause of gender inequality and, at the same time, a factor reinforcing gender inequality.

Preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, therefore, must become a political priority.

If I had to identify the greatest contribution that the Council of Europe, in its 70 years of activity, has made to the advancement of women and the promotion of women’s rights, I would have no hesitation in saying that it is the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence.

I sincerely hope this report will contribute to demystifying misconceptions and creating a new political momentum in support of the Istanbul Convention.

I, therefore, count on your support so that we can send a strong political message and launch our joint call for more ratification of the Istanbul Convention and for its implementation.

Thank you very much for listening to me, all those who were capable. Thank you very much.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

15:46:45

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Thank you, Ms GURMAI , you still have four minutes.

I now give the floor to Ms KOVÁCS to present the report Towards an ambitious Council of Europe political agenda for gender equality.

Ms KOVÁCS, you have 13 minutes' speaking time to be allocated as you see fit between the presentation of the report and the reply.

You have the floor.

Ms Elvira KOVÁCS

Serbia, EPP/CD, Rapporteur 

15:47:15

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Thank you, Madam President, dear colleagues, ladies and gentleman.

As long as women and men do not enjoy the same empowerment, participation, visibility and equal access to resources, we cannot consider Human Rights to be respected, nor democracy and the rule of law to be achieved. Gender equality is therefore really a central mission of the Council of Europe.

Human Rights, democracy and peace are the three key points without which it would be impossible to build the institutional infrastructure for gender equality: without recognised and protected women’s human rights there is no democracy.

The Council of Europe, including its Parliamentary Assembly, has for decades been a driving force in countering discrimination against women and has promoted substantial progress in its different Member States. However, gender equality remains far from being achieved in practice. In addition, unfortunately, a backlash against women’s rights is jeopardising the progress made. This calls for renewed efforts by the Council of Europe.

The Council of Europe’s Gender Equality Strategy 2018-2023 –a new one– sets out the principles, priorities for joint action by all stakeholders. It states that the overall goal of the Organisation in this area is to achieve the effective realisation of gender equality and to really empower women, and men, in Council of Europe member states. The six priority areas of the Strategy should be the guiding principles for the Council of Europe's agenda for gender equality.

The aim of this report was to try to cover these, and even a broader area. The specific aspects of gender equality that the Assembly has addressed and in which it can continue to have more added value. Namely, preventing and combating gender stereotypes and sexism; preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence; ensuring equal access of women to justice; achieving a balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision-making; economic empowerment of women; access to healthcare and sexual and reproductive rights; protecting the rights of migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking women and girls; and, finally, achieving gender mainstreaming in really all policies and measures.

Substantial progress towards such ambitious goals requires extremely strong political will, adequate resources, institutional mechanisms and a change of mind-sets, to challenge patriarchal attitudes.

Women’s empowerment is pivotal to achieving gender equality. Through empowerment, women become aware of unequal power relations, gain control over their lives, and acquire a greater voice to overcome inequality in their home, workplace and community. Promoting the equal participation of women as agents of change is essential to achieving gender equality.

Decent life is preconditioned by pursuing an equal opportunities policy. Starting from the fact that the right to decent life is a fundamental Human Right, all activities undertaken based on this axiom, confirm the fact that gender, economic and social justice is not possible, and there can be no just society, if women are exposed to various forms of discrimination.

There is a need to integrate a gender dimension into the protection of fundamental rights. A gender mainstreaming approach in all policies and measures, alongside specific policies for the advancement of women, is increasingly necessary to achieve gender equality.

The most important steps in this struggle are the so called “positive discrimination” measures in areas such as political representation. Balanced participation of women and men in political and public decision-making is needed; more precisely, we should promote gender parity in decision-making bodies.

The quest for democracy is incomplete without policies, measures and practices that seek to reduce inequalities between men and women in all spheres of life, and which link democracy and its intersection with gender. As well as policies and practices that seek to increase the participation, representation and leadership, as well as decision making of women in politics.

It is worthwhile mentioning also other important issues covered by this really broad report, such as implementing anti-discrimination legislation on remuneration and effectively banning salary inequalities for work of equal value; mainstreaming mandatory, comprehensive and inclusive sexual and relationship education; making use of gender impact assessment tools and procedures when designing legislation, policies, programmes and projects; ensuring the full implementation of existing standards and adequate resourcing of gender equality policies and mechanisms. Dear colleagues, I am very happy to have this great slot and a great number of people interested in this topic and I am really looking forward to this debate. Thank you for your attention. (APPLAUSE)

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

15:53:45

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Thank you Ms KOVACS.

You have six and a half minutes left.

I will now open the general discussion with the speakers on behalf of the political groups, and Ms Stienen has the floor on behalf of the ALDE Group.

Ms Petra STIENEN

Netherlands, ALDE, Spokesperson for the group 

15:54:13

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Dear President,

On behalf of the ALDE group, I would like to compliment both Rapporteurs Ms Zita GURMAI and Ms Elvira KOVÁCS for their excellent reports.

Dear colleagues,

Think of all the women you know and realise that 1 out of 3 of your female family members, friends and colleagues have experienced some form of gender-based violence since she was 15.

1 out of 10 has experienced some form of sexual violence, and 1 out of 20 has been raped.

Very often the perpetrator was a current or a previous partner.

In a way, domestic violence is a form of terror behind the front door that has serious impact on the lives of the women, children and perpetrators who are affected by this form of violence.

In our view, it would be useful for the empowerment of victims of gender-based violence to actually refer to them as survivors.

Ms Zita GURMAI quotes in her excellent report "The Cost for Society at Large", based on research by UN Women, "The total cost of violence against women could amount to around two percent of the global gross domestic product - that is US dollars 1.5 trillion."

1.5 trillion US dollars, ladies and gentlemen, which is approximately the size of the economy of Canada.

Therefore, we would like to ask Ms Zita GURMAI whether she believes more research needs to be done on the cost aspect of gender-based violence and whether PACE can play a part in this.

We recognise the observations of Ms Zita GURMAI on the increase of challenges against the Istanbul convention based on false information and deliberate misinterpretation of the topic of gender and gender-based violence.

We are pleased with the suggestions in the report about the role national parliaments can play in monitoring procedures.

Is there a possibility to collect data of progress in this regard, we ask Ms Zita GURMAI, so we can learn from each other?

President, I also would like to briefly comment on behalf of the ALDE group to the report of Ms Elvira KOVÁCS. The focus in this report tilts to the role and rights of women. We would like to know from the Rapporteur how PACE can work in involving men on all levels in PACE so they feel responsibility for the gender work of PACE and feel represented as well.

In addition, we would like to ask the Rapporteur how we can work more to collect relevant data and create better insight into progress towards gender equality, with regards to the connection to gender equity.

I quote: "Gender equality - equality between men and women - does not mean that women and men have to become the same, but that their rights, responsibilities and opportunities will not depend on whether they were born male or female. Gender equity means fairness of treatment for men and women according to their respective needs. This may include equal treatment or treatment that is different, but which is considered equivalent in terms of rights, benefits, obligations and opportunities", which is a quote from the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

I would like, on behalf of the ALDE party, to reiterate that we are really pleased with both reports and urge everybody to vote in favour of the resolutions.

Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

15:57:32

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I call Ms Uca, on behalf of the GUE Group.

Ms Feleknas UCA

Turkey, UEL, Spokesperson for the group 

15:57:39

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Thank you, Madam Chairman,

First of all, I would like to congratulate Ms Zita GURMAI for producing this extremely important report.

I would also like to say that our group considers this report important and supports it. Because we all know that we are facing great difficulties and challenges. But together we can master this challenge.

Unfortunately, the problems of domestic violence and violence against women have never ceased to exist. On the contrary, the extent of these problems seems to continue to grow. Unfortunately, the most important cause of the increase in violence against women is the inadequacy of State policy. The Istanbul Convention, launched by the Council of Europe and binding on Member States, is an extremely important idea for preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

The foreword to the Agreement makes it clear that the objective of this Agreement is a Europe completely free from violence against women and domestic violence. However, the European states have not yet succeeded in fully implementing the goal they themselves have formulated. Starting with Turkey, which boasts of having signed the agreement. Many countries are far from fully implementing their own objectives. Violence against women continues to be an issue throughout Europe. Turkey itself is the country with the highest number of murders against women and should therefore pursue these objectives most urgently. However, the ministry that was to deal with this matter was abolished. For this reason, there is a lack of a body capable of ensuring coordination between the organisations actively committed to ending violence against women in order to achieve the objectives of the Istanbul Convention. As you may know, the Ministry of Women in Turkey, established in 1990, was abolished in 2011. And in its place the Ministry of Family and Social Policy was introduced. Since 2018, as part of the introduction of the presidential system, the ministry has finally been transformed into the Ministry of Family, Work and Social Welfare, which has completely neglected to deal with women's problems.

In addition, in Turkey, the perpetrators of feminicide are often given a lighter sentence due to absurd reasons, such as the alleged provocation of the perpetrator by the victim or the premature release of the murderers from prison due to good detention procedures. All these are the reasons why the threshold of violence against women is being lowered, leading to a rapid increase in domestic violence. We urgently need a State policy that draws on the experience of women's organisations that have been fighting violence against women for so long. But even in politics itself we unfortunately don't find any institution that could itself be a social role model in matters of gender justice. From the highest parliament to the municipal administrative structures, we find a hegemony of men everywhere in politics.

We, the HDP, have succeeded at this point in seriously challenging the hegemony in Turkey's political arena and in bringing about change. With our system of dual leadership, consisting of a man and a woman, we have managed to get into the Turkish Parliament; also in all municipalities, provinces and counties. In short, we implement the principles of gender equality in all our structures. We call on everyone to sincerely address the issue of violence against women and domestic violence; and above all to assume responsibility...

 

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:01:19

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Please Madam UCA, come to the end. We have too many speakers.

Ms Feleknas UCA

Turkey, UEL, Spokesperson for the group 

16:01:25

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Yes, I come to the end, Madam Chairman. Let's show violence the red card. Although the Council of Europe came up with the idea for this agreement, we in this House must find the motivation for its implementation. All countries should address this issue and take serious political steps to put an end to this violence.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:01:42

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Ladies and gentlemen, I would ask you to respect the speaking time. There are many people on the list who would probably be unhappy if they could not speak.

I call Mr HAMZAYEV, for the FDG Group.

Mr Nagif HAMZAYEV

Azerbaijan, FDG, Spokesperson for the group 

16:02:00

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Ladies and gentlemen, Madam President, dear all,

It's an utmost pleasure and honour for me to stand in front of you talking about this wonderful topic. What we see from the report so far is that great steps have been taken towards the ultimate goal, you know, I think all of us are here towards a better Europe, a stronger Europe. A Europe that increases awareness of people, a Europe that shows people the right direction, a Europe that ensures the protection of rights of all minority groups, a Europe that strongly condemns violence against women.

However, we should think about a Europe that not only condemns the violence against women but also takes necessary measures. In light of what I just listed, the Istanbul Convention indeed adds tremendous value to the process against violence of women. However, we should realise this is not an easy process. Not at all. This process requires gradual change in the mindset, policy and behaviour of people. We are proud of the diversity we have on our continent, right? So, what have to embrace these differences and bring them together. It's very difficult to implement something just by using the copy-paste model. There has to be certain customisation, adaptation and personalisation even.

I agree that it might hinder the time value of the change but can by no means hinder the process itself. The amount of opinions, more alternatives, more ideas and more criticism the Istanbul Convention face, the stronger it becomes. As the report shows, achievements over the challenges. Therefore, we should once again thank people who put a vote in this report and stay positive.

After all, we should think big, start small and learn fast. Thank you very much for your attention.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:04:30

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Thank you.

I do not see Mr ZINGERIS for the EPP Group. I therefore give the floor to Ms BAYR, on behalf of the SOC Group.

Ms Petra BAYR

Austria, SOC, Spokesperson for the group 

16:04:42

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Thank you, Mrs President.

Both reports are extremely important for the lives of millions of women, for more than half of our population.

I want to thank on behalf of my faction, the SOC faction, Elvira and Zita for their critical endeavour for the self-determined and fulfilled life for all women in Europe, free from coercion, violence and every bond.

There is circulating a lot of intentional misinterpretation of the Istanbul Convention. Some argue the Istanbul convention destroys values of our society. It does not. It protects women against all forms of violence and violence never, ever can be a value. Some assert the Istanbul Convention perils the existence of families. It does not. The Istanbul Convention prevents, protects and eliminates all forms of violence against women and domestic violence. And violence never, ever can be a fundament for happy families. Some claim the Istanbul convention overturns our culture. Yes, indeed, it does. It contributes to eliminate all forms of discrimination of women and protects and promotes substantive equality. To convert a culture of discrimination into one that empowers women, that protects and assists all victims and survivors of violence. That supports organisations and law enforcement agencies to meet the goal, to eliminate it all forms of violence. Yes. That's a cultural modification all of us, all of our parliaments, all of our governments must support due to the fact that it's the core, at the substantial and constitutive core of the Council of Europe.

Ladies and gentlemen there is no excuse to boycott the Istanbul convention. It's imperative to follow the GRAVIO recommendations, to fight backlash against the rights of women, to save lives and to support victims, support survivors of violence. It's imperative to eradicate violence against women in any kind it occurs, and all of us have a real political obligation in is regard.

Thank you very much.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:07:37

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Thank you.

I call Mr HOWELL, on behalf of the EC Group.

Mr John HOWELL

United Kingdom, EC, Spokesperson for the group 

16:07:44

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First, I'd like to start by congratulating the rapporteur. This is an excellent report. She has raised a very important issue and I do pay tribute to the excellence of her report. The report talks in terms of lifting "the shroud of violence that surrounds violence against women and girls" and I think that that is an excellent use of English, if I may say so, to describe what the report contains.

The Istanbul Convention has made an excellent contribution to this. But the question that I would have is how widely is the Istanbul Convention known beyond us politicians and how can we work together to get it better known? Often it is events that occur in the public arena that have brought it to our attention. For example, in the UK, one such event was the murder of Jo Cox. She was an MP, she was the first MP to be murdered in over 25 years. She was shot three times and repeatedly stabbed and this sent out a message to everyone.

But it also goes beyond this, we have recently introduced a bill to prevent upskirting, to make upskirting illegal. That is the situation that occurs where photography takes place under a woman's skirt without her knowing and I think that that has been a very good contribution to this sort of activity.

The report draws attention to the large number of women who are subject to violence, and also, and this is most important, to the cost involved in doing so. In the UK, the Domestic Abuse Bill was introduced and it points to a cost of 66 billion in 2016-17. Most of that has been the result of physical and emotional harm and it covers two million adults who experienced domestic abuse in that year. The UK is near ratification. The sticking point was allowing those who commit offences abroad to be prosecuted in the UK. That has been taken care of and I anticipate that ratification will take place.

But if I may just comment on one issue: female genital mutilation. We have seen a landmark case this year in the UK. It's a landmark case because this serious crime has been properly prosecuted and the person who committed female genital mutilation has been sent to prison. And I think that that is a great aspect to play.

And just lastly, I would say that I don't think the rapporteur should pay attention too much to those supposedly men of faith who do not share the support for the Istanbul Convention. I am a man of faith and I do support the Istanbul Convention.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:11:07

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Thank you.

Does either of the two rapporteurs ask for the floor after the groups' interventions or at the end?

At the end.

Before turning to the general debate, I would like to remind you, dear colleagues, that the voting to elect a Vice-President of the Assembly in respect of the Russian Federation will close at the end of the sitting, and I invite those of you who have not yet voted to do so.

In the general discussion I give the floor to Ms PANTIĆ PILJA.

Ms Biljana PANTIĆ PILJA

Serbia, EPP/CD 

16:11:51

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Thank you ladies and gentlemen.

First of all congratulations to the Rapporteurs Ms Zita GURMAI and Ms Elvira KOVÁCS, great job.

I would like to speak about my country.

The Republic of Serbia has ratified all the international and regional treaties and conventions that set up standards in the fields of Human rights, women's rights and gender equality. It has developed broad anti-discrimination in the Human rights legal framework. The Constitution of the Republic of Serbia guarantees the equality of women and men and obliges the state to develop an equal opportunities policy.

Down to discrimination, the legal framework consists of the Law on the prohibition of discrimination, the Law of equality between sexes. The law obliges public authorities to develop active equal opportunity policies in all spheres of public life, in all phases of planning, formulating and implementing decisions that affect the position of women and men.

A person discriminated on the basis of sex may request legal remains and compensation from a court. Gender equality clauses including affirmative measures have been integrated into the legislation related to the specific sectors, such as labour, employment, family relations, election, social protection, healthcare, media, sports, etc.

The Republic of Serbia is the first country outside the European Union which has introduced the index of gender equality. The Republic of Serbia has a Parliament where 93 of 250 seats in the National Assembly are held by women -37%.

Leading roles in the Serbian political environment are taken by women. The speaker of the National Assembly is a woman, the prime minister of the Republic of Serbia is a woman, and the governor of the National Bank of Serbia is a woman.

Up to 2014 legislation and policy have been mostly gender-blind, sustaining traditional gender roles. In recent years evident progress has been made in promoting gender equality with respect to improving legal and policy framework.

At a national level major achievement in 2016 is related to adopting the new national strategy for gender equality 2016, 2012 and an action plan 2016-2018.

Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:14:30

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Thank you.

I call Ms MASSEY.

Baroness Doreen MASSEY

United Kingdom, SOC 

16:14:36

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Thank you, Madam President. Welcome, dear colleagues. First, I must congratulate the reporteurs" for their excellent contributions and concern about domestic violence. (Interruption)

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:14:47

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Wait, wait, please!

No, it's ok, thank you.

Now you have the floor. I'm sorry, but it was disturbing.

Baroness Doreen MASSEY

United Kingdom, SOC 

16:14:55

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It's good to see that the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe has taken stock of the situation and raised unresolved issues, stating that whilst the assembled convention has contributed to saving hundreds of lives, we need a new political and operational approach and men and women need to do this work together.

It is true that across nations, new criminal offences of for example forced marriage, stalking, female genital mutilation, rape and abuse have been instituted.

In my own country, a draft domestic abuse bill was published by the government in January this year, but was sadly delayed by obsessions with Brexit. The bill will be debated in the autumn.

We know that all but two members of the Council of Europe have signed the Istanbul Convention but only 34 have ratified it.

In the UK we are pressing for ratification despite our government's arguments that the UK complies with virtually all the Convention's articles.

Cultural, religious and gender-based reservations exist as we all know. As our Rapporteur said, the Convention sometimes has been represented by its opponents as an attack on family values.

But the Convention does restate and elaborate on issues of Human rights.

In the UK, the domestic violence bill, which I referred to earlier, has some radical components. It includes for example the first statutory government definition of domestic abuse to specifically include economic abuse and controlling and manipulative behaviour, non-physical abuse.

It also proposes establishing a Domestic Abuse Commissioner. It proposes the provision that cross-examination of victims by abusive family courts shall no longer be allowed.

This bill, I have to say, is not perfect. It must and will be amended, but at least it is there.

I urge colleagues to encourage their governments to re-examine approaches to domestic violence and abuse against women, so that women are better protected from death, violence and abuse and given more services and facilities to help them protect themselves and their children, and also to help rehabilitation from this horrendous crime.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:17:37

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I call Ms KYRIAKIDES.

Ms Stella KYRIAKIDES

Cyprus, EPP/CD 

16:17:39

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Thank you Madam President.

Dear colleagues, firstly I would like to congratulate both Rapporteurs in the wonderful work they have done in these two reports.

I would also like to take the opportunity to thank the President of our Assembly, Liliane MAURY PASQUIER, for embracing the campaign Not in my Parliament and for always using her voice to promote, on every occasion, the need to stop violence against women.

As a member of this Assembly I must admit I feel proud because of the commitment and the work that PACE has shown and the dedication, in this respect over the years.

The Istanbul Convention is indeed a landmark convention. Most countries who have signed and ratified it including my own, Cyprus, still have a long way to go.

Change has happened but political will is necessary in order to keep women and girls safe from violence and to provide the victims with the support that they need to rebuild their lives.

In Cyprus we not only have the house for the child but we are now in the process of having the house for women, a multidisciplinary safe area where women, victims of violence, can go.

Change is not an easy task. It's one that still requires time, patience and perseverance.

We are all aware that entry into the Convention requires extensive legislative change. We need to develop support services. We need to implement prevention programmes. We need to collect data and carry out research.

We need to do this in a coordinated way with civil society and NGOs. But most importantly we, in this plenary area, need to ask us ourselves: has the Istanbul Convention really made a difference?

The answer, of course, is an overwhelming "yes". A huge difference across Europe and beyond.

But we do need to do much more, especially in the area of prevention, of changing stereotypes through education from a young age, where for decades violence against women and girls has been accepted and perceived as almost normal in some cultures.

Often violence is not recognised as such, especially where psychological violence is involved, where it goes undetected and unreported.

So, I should like once again to thank and congratulate the Rapporteurs for these reports but also I would like to thank each and every colleague who raises his or her voice against violence against women and girls, both here and in each of our 47 member countries.

Violence against women is a global phenomenon. It's sparing no society, regardless of income, race, gender, sexual orientation or religion.

Through the adoption of this report we reaffirm our commitment because there can only be one message: zero tolerance to violence against women and girls.

Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:20:56

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Thank you, Ms KYRIAKIDES.

Ms FATALIYEVA has the floor.

Ms Sevinj FATALIYEVA

Azerbaijan, EC 

16:21:02

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Thank you Madam President.

Dear colleagues, I also join all the congratulations to the Rapporteurs for their excellent work and for the important issue that they're raising.

I think that for us parliamentarians the presented reports are extremely important because we are the ones who participate in the work of the conventions and resolutions, their implementation and informing our societies about the work that we are doing.

Women all over the world are trying to answer the same question: what it is to be a woman, what it is to be a working woman, how to overcome obstacles in this way, how to become effective, how to empower other women to be more represented.

Also we discuss education of girls, violence against women, the economic empowerment of women and how to manage a career with a family.

This issue is referred to women of almost all continents with different religions, different cultures and different paths of gaining their rights, but sharing the same values and similar challenges.

Women all over the world are always fighting to be more represented in equal rights, to protect themselves against violence.

I come from Azerbaijan. My country is mentioned in the report. But last year we celebrated the 100 year anniversary of women being granted the right to vote and to be elected. So our story of women's rights may be considered to be a success story.

We're preserving this success story. I have some good news: Azerbaijan is going to sign the Istanbul convention in the near future.

We're joining the work of our colleagues... but definitely the experience of other countries is very valuable.

I think the red ribbon of all discussions in PACE and these reports in particular is the idea that regardless of geography and nationality, women need legislative support, women need protection of their rights and utmost to be more self-confident in order to be able to break the stereotypes.

We need to stop proving that even with a family, women can be as dedicated to work as men are.

We need more trust and support and eliminate discrimination on gender aspects to prevent violence.

I strongly believe that it is not only women who have to participate in these discussions and in preparation of these reports, but also men should be attracted to this work.

One more thing that I would like to add is that the more we women support each other I think the stronger we become.

That's why we always have to be together, supporting each other, and only in this case we can achieve something.

Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:23:38

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Thank you.

I give the floor to Ms HEINRICH.

Ms Gabriela HEINRICH

Germany, SOC 

16:23:43

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Thank you very much, Madam President,

Dear colleagues,

I would like to thank our colleagues, Zita GURMAI and Elvira KOVÁCS, for their so important reports.

Unfortunately, we have already heard several times that there is still so much to be done with regard to violence against women and gender equality, and that we are far from where we need to be. Also in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights. Zita GURMAI Report meticulously evaluates the most important studies on violence against women. If you extrapolate the results of these studies, it means that thousands of women die every year from domestic violence, and millions of European women become victims and infinitely many are raped.

There are still states that have not yet ratified the Istanbul Convention and do not want to do so. Zita GURMAI mentions a frightening phenomenon in this context. Opponents of the Istanbul Convention accuse it of pursuing a hidden agenda; attacking the central value of the family. Such opponents must ask themselves, does this correspond to their family values when women are abused and raped? Could it be that in our countries, including Council of Europe countries, women are still regarded as inferior? That men are granted the right to strike and torture them? Whoever continues to accept these patriarchal ideas clearly violates human rights and the spirit of this assembly.

Dear colleagues,

We must go even further on the offensive when it comes to enforcing the Istanbul Convention. This convention is valuable and opens up ways out of violence, and we are not yet where we should be when it comes to real equality. Much has been achieved, but I agree with Elvira KOVÁCS. We need ambitious goals in many areas; in politics, in the economy, in access to justice, in sexual and reproductive health and also in the area of migration; and last but not least we need to do much more against sexism. Women are disadvantaged and threatened both online and offline.

Dear colleagues,

It makes me angry that such reports are still needed at all and it makes me even more angry that in some countries there are actually regressions in the equality of women to be observed and that extreme work is being done on this. We must put a stop to this and both reports state how this can be done. Let's start with that.

Thank you very much, sir.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:26:36

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Thank you.

I give the floor to Mr FOURNIER.

Mr Bernard FOURNIER

France, EPP/CD 

16:26:42

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Thank you, Madam President, ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to thank our two fellow rapporteurs for the quality and relevance of the reports.

The fight against violence against women, on the one hand, and the fight for gender equality, on the other, are closely linked. If the fight for equality is not won, the fight against physical violence against women will not be won either. The Istanbul Convention was an essential step in raising awareness of the unacceptability of violence against women. Today, this violence is still too often underestimated, ignored or relativised. It exists in all countries and societies, at home, at school, on the street, at work, on the Internet.

In the European Union, between 45 and 55 per cent of women have been victims of sexual harassment since the age of 15. This violence is one of the most widespread human rights violations in the world.

The Istanbul Convention is a key legal tool. It alone is not enough. Most of the battle must be fought in people's minds, in their daily behaviour. That is why our debate today is important, as should be the debates on this subject in other international forums.

I am pleased that my country, which currently chairs the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, as well as the G7, has put the issue of violence against women at the top of its agenda. Already last November, France –together with the Netherlands– initiated the first resolution of the United Nations General Assembly to eliminate sexual harassment in the world. In Biarritz, France, next August, the G7 will discuss three inseparable priorities. Firstly, the protection of women against violence, whether through sexual mutilation or forced marriage, the fight against cyberbullying, and secondly, the encouragement of the ratification of the Istanbul Convention in all countries.

Two other priorities will concern the fight for equality, which is equally central: girls' access to lifelong education and training for women; and finally, women's entrepreneurship, particularly in African countries, by supporting women in financing their projects and businesses.

The Council of Europe and our Parliamentary Assembly, through the Istanbul Convention, are at the heart of this dual struggle. It is now up to each of us, in our respective countries and parliaments, with our own international responsibilities, to spread this fight, and to constantly return, in time and against time, to our imperative obligation.

Thank you very much.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

16:29:41

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Thank you.

I give the floor to Ms BLONDIN.

Ms Maryvonne BLONDIN

France, SOC 

16:29:47

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Thank you, Madam President, ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to start by highlight the excellent quality of the reports of our fellow rapporteurs, who have done a remarkable job analysing the issues and perspectives related to the fight for gender equality. I also would like to thank the President of the Parliamentary Assembly for her tireless commitment to combat violence against women.

The Council of Europe has distinguished itself, since its creation 70 years ago, through its relentless work in the fight against gender discrimination. Women's rights - it must always be remembered - are fundamental rights. They contribute to the construction of truly just and democratic societies.

The polymorphous discrimination to which women are subjected, and which we discuss at each of our sessions, ladies and gentlemen, is based on the construction of a social system, that has continuously promoted a binary system, dividing society into men and women, with the superiority of the former over the latter. 

This violence has prompted our Assembly to undertake real substantive work. In order to put an end to these inequalities and to build a legal arsenal that will protect women's rights and ensure their emancipation.

There are two essential and important conventions on this regard: the Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings - it should not be forgotten - and the Istanbul Convention. These are two very valuable international legal instruments, provided, of course, that Member States sign, ratify and then implement them through harmonisation of their national legislation

Today, the role of women in society is increasingly contested. Some political parties promote a supposedly traditional vision of women's place in society. And that is why - as my colleague said - France, which presides the Committee of Ministers, presented its strong commitment to gender equality at the G7 in Dinars last April.

In 2019, we are witnessing a worrying backlash, which requires us to remain vigilant, to be even more ambitious in our objectives and ever more intractable in the face of discrimination and violence against women. Because, together, we must build societies that respect every member of the society.

Thank you.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

16:32:52

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Thank you. Ms Brigitte BOCCONE-PAGES, you have the floor.

Ms Brigitte BOCCONE-PAGES

Monaco, EPP/CD 

16:33:03

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Madam President,

Dear Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wanted to congratulate you on the quality of your report, which is of excellent finesse.

I would also like to express my support for the efforts undertaken by our Assembly to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women in practice, as well as the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls.

Gender equality has become, thanks to a collective commitment, a major issue in many areas: education, health, work, etc. This equality is a value present in all major international texts. Among these, the Istanbul Convention occupies a special, prominent place.

This Convention is the most ambitious international treaty to combat violence against women and domestic violence. The comprehensive set of provisions includes comprehensive preventive and protective measures as well as a number of obligations to strengthen the criminal justice response to such serious Human rights violations.

For these reasons, I welcome Monaco's ratification of the Istanbul Convention on 7 October 2014.

It is the duty of everyone, as a human being, to put an end to this violence. Our responsibility goes further, since we have the opportunity, as elected representatives, to make this fight a political priority at the level of standards and the State. Although there has been progress and the legal status of women in Europe has undoubtedly improved in recent decades, effective equality between women and men is still far from being achieved.

Violence against women and domestic violence remain widespread and their consequences are disastrous for women, societies and economies. Violence against women remains one of the most pronounced manifestations of unequal power and power relations between women and men.

As we know, this progress towards gender equality and for the place of women in our political systems will not be achieved in a day. This is why we should focus our efforts on the education and training of future generations.

I would like to point out that the Council of Europe's pioneering work on Human rights and gender equality has led to the establishment of a solid legal and political framework.

Thus, we can only support the fact that equality between women and men is one of the priorities of our Organisation, fully committed to addressing current and new challenges to achieve full and substantive equality between women and men.

Thank you very much.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

16:36:06

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Thank you Madam. The next speaker is Mr Markus WIECHEL please.

Mr Markus WIECHEL

Sweden, EC 

16:36:12

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Madam President,

It is of extreme importance for the future of our societies that the Istanbul Convention on violence against women is successfully implemented across Europe.

For if we cannot stop the present dramatic rise in the physical, mental and social abuse of so many women, then our western civilisation will not endure for long, based as it is on human rights and equality - including between the sexes.

My own country, Sweden, got its first laws protecting women over 700 years ago, in the year 1280, and those laws served their purpose during the centuries.

But look at Sweden today.

A recent governmental study found that nearly half of women aged between 20 and 24 feel unsafe and worry about being attacked, and 42% of women choose a different road or means of transportation to get to work and return home, in order to reduce the risk of being attacked.

In the year 2017, 22,500 sexual crimes were reported to the police, and 8,000 of these were classified as rape.

6.4% of all Swedish women reported that they had been victims of sexual crime that year, up from only 1.5% in 2006.

Dear colleagues, this is an increase of over 400% in only 11 years.

Among Swedish women between the age of 20 and 24, 36% reported that they had been victims of sexual crime in 2017.

Swedish state television recently looked at the origin of the 843 men who from 2013 to 2017 were convicted of rape or attempted rape. The study found that 58% of the convicted men in question were born outside of Sweden, or half were born outside of Europe.

Almost 40% were born in the Middle East or Africa.

Obviously, we do have a serious challenge, since 1.3 million immigrants have come to Sweden over the last decade.

The vast majority of these come from far away countries with social, cultural and religious traditions that are very different from those in Sweden.

Obviously, this is a problem.

The immigration rate is, therefore, a very crucial matter for us to discuss while handling this important issue.

The otherwise excellent report by Ms Zita GURMAI should have made some mention of the challenges we face due to the large numbers of migrants entering our countries.

Last but not least, dear colleagues, on a day like this we need to remember why we stand here. We need to remember what we do here in this assembly. We need to think about whom we elect to important positions in this assembly. 

Thank you, Madam President.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

16:39:18

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Thank you. Mr Robert TROY, please.

Mr Robert TROY

Ireland, ALDE 

16:39:25

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I will start off by complimenting both Rapporteurs on the report.

Obviously, both reports are very independent, given that violence against women is a form of gender-based discrimination and a manifestation of deeply rooted inequality between men and women.

The horrendous figures which indicate that one in three women in the EU report being a victim of gender-based violence at least once since the age of 15. This potentially could be any of our sisters, mothers, aunts, nieces, people who we know.

Inequality needs to be addressed, empowering women, and ensuring women's full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision making in the workplace, politics and public life is the best means in doing so.

The Convention itself, while delivering monumental change in terms of attitudes and legislative provisions, has achieved a lot. But much more needs to be done.

We must never be complacent.

From an Irish perspective, while we signed the convention in 2014, we only ratified it earlier this year on International Women's Day. It comes into Force next Monday, the first of July.

Acknowledge that the Irish Government has brought it this far. And while words matter, actions matter far more.

Implementation is key. The director of Women's Aid, a group in Ireland that supports women and girls, said "only effective implementation, including resourcing, will make a very real difference". Their helpline responds to 50 calls a day. Save Ireland, a group that represents 37 domestic services, said "what now needs to happen is to put in place wraparound resources, training, policies, support infrastructure, awareness programmes and a whole of society response".

The Report today recommends strengthening dialogue with civil society.

Recently I spoke at the local branch of Soroptimist International. A group of women who work to improve the lives of fellow women and girls. For 2019 they have adopted the implementation of the Istanbul Convention.

Working with groups such as this, and working within our own parliaments, we can build upon the improvements that we have made today in tackling the horrendous crime of domestic abuse. But also, working to reduce and eliminate gender inequality between men and women across all spheres of life.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

16:42:20

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Thank you. Mr Paul GAVAN from Ireland again, please.

Mr Paul GAVAN

Ireland, UEL 

16:42:27

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Thanks indeed, Madam Chairperson.

I want to begin by complimenting both Rapporteurs for their fine reports, and also by disassociating myself entirely with the remarks of the second last speaker.

This year's International Women's Day marked Ireland's ratification of the Istanbul Convention.

It is thanks to the campaigning efforts of women and girls who have experienced domestic violence, and those who advocate on their behalf, that we have reached this milestone.

It's really disappointing that 13 of the Council's Member States have yet to ratify the Convention.

It is, after all, the opinion of the Council that violence against women, including domestic violence, undermines the core values on which the Council of Europe is based.

The fundamental aim of the Istanbul Convention is the creation of a Europe free from violence against women and domestic violence. Its influence cannot be understated. In Ireland, the Convention forced the government to finally enact significant domestic violence legislation, and to make coercive control a criminal offence for the first time.

To quote Frederick Douglass, power concedes nothing without a demand.

Frontline organisations in Ireland have described the Convention as a major milestone in protecting women and in tackling domestic and gender-based violence.

Unfortunately, it is the opinion of these organisations that domestic violence is now at epidemic levels in Ireland.

Of the eight women murdered in Ireland this year alone, a man known to seven of the victims was a suspect or has been charged.

Over the last two decades, 10 women every year, on average, have died violently in Ireland.

Of the resolved cases, over 50% of women were murdered by their current or former partner.

61% were killed in their own homes.

One in five women in Ireland will experience domestic abuse at some point in their lives. They may be sexually abused or physically assaulted. Others, will have their every move controlled by their intimate partner. Most, will feel a deep sense of shame and isolation. They'll be terrified for their children. Every aspect of their life outside the home will be impacted by the abuse they experience within it.

The emotional and psychological cost of domestic and gender-based violence is devastating. The Convention firmly establishes the link between achieving gender equality and the eradication of violence against women. But we must not limit our ambitions to the Convention itself. It provides a legal framework of rights, from which States can broaden and deepen support and protection for women.

So, what more should we do?

Paid domestic violence leave underpinned in legislation must become the norm in every Member State.

The workplace must become an avenue of support and escape.

We need to see a system of statutory multi-agency domestic homicide reviews (DHR) introduced in all Member States.

DHRs are not a replacement for a criminal investigation or an inquest, nor do they seek to apportion blame. They consider the circumstances of the homicide, identify how responses could have been improved, and how agencies can work better together to protect potential victims and prevent future violent domestic crimes.

In short, friends, we can and must work together to eradicate gender and domestic based violence and homicide in all our countries.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

16:45:30

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Thank you. Is Ms Mariia IONOVA here? No. So next speaker is Ms Edite ESTRELA, lease.

Ms Edite ESTRELA

Portugal, SOC 

16:45:40

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Thank you Madam President, dear colleagues,

First of all, I would like to congratulate Ms GURMAI and Ms KOVÁCS for the quality of their reports and for their commitment to gender equality.

I will highlight what has already been said: the Istanbul Convention is the most comprehensive international instrument to prevent and combat violence against women. That is perhaps why the Convention is so under attack.

This is why society must be made aware of the urgent need to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence and to help change the mentalities of those who want women to return to their place in the home.

I am proud that my country, Portugal, was the first country to sign and ratify the Istanbul Convention. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Convention's rapporteur, Mr Mendes Bota, a Portuguese MEP at the time, for his excellent work.

For the Portuguese government, preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence is a priority. The government has mainstreamed gender into all policies to prevent discrimination and change attitudes. The progress is visible and acknowledged in the various independent reports at national and international level.

Even today, a national newspaper gives this good news: there are twice as many women in decision-making positions in companies in Portugal.

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the Portuguese government implemented a campaign against domestic violence, entitled We will win the fight against violence. As the Secretary of State for Equality said, "we want victims to be able to ask for help in confidence and for people who are aware of violent situations to feel called upon and not hesitate to report incidents".

Violence against women and domestic violence is a serious violation of human rights. It is a crime and it is up to all of us to denounce it. We cannot accept that women continue to die because they are women. Urgent action is needed to save women's lives and protect children who witness domestic violence, who so often witness the death of their mothers and sometimes are themselves victims of violence.

It is time to translate our outrage into action to eliminate sexism, stereotypes and gender myths that perpetuate unequal gender relations within the family, at school, in the labour market and in society.

Dear colleagues, never forget: women have the fundamental right to live without violence.

Thank you.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

16:49:10

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 Thank you Madam. The next speaker is Mr Davor Ivo STIER please.

Mr Davor Ivo STIER

Croatia, EPP/CD 

16:49:17

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Thank you, Madam Chair.

All Member States should combat violence against women.

It's true. here is a controversy over the Convention's definition of gender as a concept that is different but also separate from sex, as is explained by the legal services of this Council.

This relates to a view that every human being has the autonomy to define himself or herself, regardless of biological facts.

Now, a more classical view believes that a human person is actually free when he or she is acting in harmony in accordance with the laws of nature and, therefore, believes that gender should be a concept that is different but cannot be separate from sex, cannot be separate or contrary to biological facts.

So we have two different anthropological views. The Convention only accepts one. Since we live in plural societies, we should think of showing flexibility and inclusiveness and allow different anthropological views in the process of ratification.

However, on one thing we cannot be flexible and this, of course, is violence.

We should be strict in combating violence against women. Respecting the dignity of the human person means and requires a firm stance in combating violence against women.

Dear colleagues,

This is not just a question of equality. It's more than that. It's a question of embracing the centrality of women in developing our communities, in developing our societies, in developing our democracies.

Thank you.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

16:51:08

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Thank you, sir. Next speaker is Madame ZOHRABYAN, please.

Ms Naira ZOHRABYAN

Armenia, EC 

16:51:14

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Thank you, Madam, dear colleagues,

I congratulate Ms GURMAI on her report, which addresses a crucial issue by addressing the phenomenon of violence against women in its physical but also psychological form, which is a crime and must be condemned legally and, above all, morally. To this end, international and domestic legal instruments must be constantly strengthened by our coordinated action at the political, legislative and institutional levels.

The Council of Europe has made a valuable contribution to the body of international law by drafting the Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, which is the most comprehensive and advanced international legal instrument in this field.

Armenia, as a supporter and promoter of universal values, attaches great importance to respect for women's rights and values their role, inter alia, in democratic processes. The large number of women and girls who mobilised during the Revolution in April 2018 is a clear example.

Last year, Armenia signed Convention 210. Before that, in December 2017, Parliament adopted the national law on combating and preventing domestic violence. The Council of Europe Action Plan for Armenia, recently launched in Yerevan, also contains projects to support the effective implementation of national law.

As the rapporteur has well noted, last year the National Assembly of Armenia made a voluntary contribution to our parliamentary network for women's rights to live without violence. This network enables national parliamentarians to raise public awareness and increase political support for the protection of women's rights. Moreover, at the initiative of the Armenian Presidency of the Francophonie, the firm commitment to equality, the empowerment of women, the elimination of all forms of violence against women and have been in the strategy of the Francophonie, as well as in the declaration of the Yerevan Summit and in the Francophone call to live it together.

Finally, the awareness-raising campaign in other parliaments, initiated by our President Maurice Pasquet, is also important because it aims to prevent and combat sexism against women in all areas of public life, including parliaments.

In conclusion, we, women and men, we, the parliamentarians of Europe, must intensify our efforts to ensure a public era conducive to the development of each human being.

Thank you all.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

16:54:41

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Thank you Madam.

Dear colleagues, I remind members that the vote is open to elect a Vice-President of the Assembly in respect of the Russian Federation. The ballot will close at the end of the sitting.

Those who have not voted may still do so by going to the area behind the President's chair.

Sorry for this intervention.

The next speaker is Mr Stefan SCHENNACH please.

Mr Stefan SCHENNACH

Austria, SOC 

16:55:07

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Thank you, Madam President,

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Istanbul Convention is one of the most important conventions and should be seen in the same light as the Convention against the Death Penalty or the Convention against Torture. And it is one of the modern conventions. As with the two previous conventions, it also has a control and monitoring mechanism. I think this is something very, very important with GREVIO. Violence against women is a crime, whether it takes place outside the home or inside, at work or in the family. And when we started the very successful One in Five Campaign here, it was completely surprising for many that a child of every five was sexually abused. If we now accept violence against women, it is bitter to note that, from the age of 15 onwards, every third woman has come into contact in some way with attempted or committed sexual violence, and in the case of this GREVIO, a number of our Member States have already been inspected or examined, including Albania, Denmark, Austria, Monaco, Montenegro, Portugal, Sweden, and Turkey, in order to see exactly whether the various mechanisms that are being proposed to the signatories, the ratifying states, are also taking effect and whether the first reports are taking effect.

I can remember, it wasn't so long ago, when I was in the women's prison in Tirana and sat relatively comfortably with some women in the yard and I asked them about their life stories. They were all officially murderers and all reported of a life of harassment, pressure, abuse, by their family, by their husbands, that their only way out of this tunnel of violence was the murder of their husbands. But this is precisely where this Istanbul Convention comes in and we can advise and ask everyone who has not yet signed the Istanbul Convention to sign it now. Because it is one of the most basic conventions we have.

Once again many thanks to our president. "Not In My Parliament" follows exactly this convention. Thank you. I'll take care of it.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

16:58:24

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Thank you Mr Stefan SCHENNACH. The next speaker is Mr Rafael HUSEYNOV please.

Mr Rafael HUSEYNOV

Azerbaijan, ALDE 

16:58:29

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Thank you, Chair. Dear colleagues,

If we compare, obviously woman's shoulders are more graceful than men's. However, in our personal life, our society we often encounter a different picture. The burden and many worries usually fall on these graceful shoulders. Women are some kind of main carry pillars in a family and in society. If we fail to protect them, the family will be shaken and the balance of society will be broken.

The effect of truth grows much more when expressed with the language of statistics, as well as in numbers. Perhaps based on the same considerations that the report contained statistics of observation by the EU's main human rights agency in 28 member states. Polls of 42,000 women living in the European Union show that at least one of three women have been harassed and persecuted due to the different gender inequalities. We see studies in eight countries with 15,000 women in 2018 shows that 70% of them face similar problems. Of course, these are alarming, thought-provoking numbers.

Nevertheless, what I am going to say is not only alarming but terrible. For more than 30 years, my country Azerbaijan has been posting a large army of refugees and internally displaced persons, which appeared as a result of the occupation of Armenia and its protectors.

According to official statistics, the number in the early 1990s was about 1 million and now it exceeds 1,200,000. About 60% of these contingents are women, children of different ages, the young, the middle-aged, the elderly women. All of them, like all other women of the world, enjoy a comfortable life, were created by God.

So why are their lives so terrible and shocking like the real horrible panorama of hell? It is impossible to compare them with women in EU Member States or in countries without refugees and IDPs. It may be possible, that is to say, we can suppress our eyes, silencing our conscience in other countries when it comes to research on gender equality. It can be said that some large or insignificant percentages in relation to the pressure against women take place. But in the case of Azerbaijan, there is no need to specifically calculate the sufferings of this life in Azerbaijan.

Almost a hundred percent of hundreds and thousands of women have been subjected to severe pressure every day, every second, since 1988. Speaking of all other women, we must point them out as a special category. Which in its turn will be another manifestation of discrimination or the mass succeed in removing the label of IDPs and refugees from these women, which is the main cause of the tragedy.

Thank you.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

17:01:41

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Thank you Mr Mihail POPSOI is the next speaker.

Mr Mihail POPSOI

Republic of Moldova, EPP/CD 

17:01:47

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Madam President, honourable colleagues.

It is with great pleasure and enormous relief that I can inform you that the constitutional political crisis in Moldova has ended following a peaceful transition of power. Not only does Moldova have a stable and legitimate government but this government is also a women majority government. Seven out of 12 cabinet members are women who are accomplished professionals of impeccable integrity. Why? To paraphrase a modern-day philosopher, because it's 2019.

Sadly, Moldova has been struggling with women trafficking, domestic violence, and unfortunately, my country has not yet ratified the Istanbul Convention due to a lack of implementation capacity and, quite frankly, due to lack of political will. But the new government, led by prime minister Maia Sandu and parliament speaker Zinaida Greceanii, two powerful women, must and will find the capacity to ratify and fully implement the Convention. As deputy speaker of the Parliament, I will also make it a personal priority along with my colleague, the leader of the women organisation of our party, Doina GHERMAN, who will be here next time as I am a suppléant member of our party's delegation.

Finally, I look forward to work with all of you to advance gender equality, protect human rights and combat violence against women and girls in my native Moldova and across Europe. Thank you.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

17:03:18

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Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Martin WHITFIELD please.

Mr Martin WHITFIELD

United Kingdom, SOC 

17:03:32

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I'm grateful.

It was just over two years ago that I had the great pleasure of being elected to represent East Lothian at the Westminster Parliament in the United Kingdom. And like all new MPs, we go in fresh-faced to decide where we sit. I actually found myself sitting at the back bench in opposition. It wasn't until a few days in that I started looking around the chamber, and my eyes fell upon the shields that hang around the outside edge of our Parliament. I asked what they represented, and they represent each MP who has been killed while holding the office of MP. I discovered that I sat beneath the shield that's dedicated to Jo Cox, who in 2016, was murdered by a right-wing fascist extremists.

She shared with us words that have been repeated many many times, but came from her the first time: "we have more in common". A simple phrase issued from an intelligent, clever, professional woman who was struck down by violence, which was aimed purely at her because of her job and her gender. And we find ourselves today, debating what is one of the greatest stains on the human race, that is violence occasioned against women, children, girls, simply because of their gender. For so long hidden, for so long kept out of the sight. 

I would like to take the short time that I have available to make two points. Firstly, the disappointment that my own Government, although it is signed up to the convention, is yet to ratify it. It is one of a group of countries diminishing, that have yet to take that final step. The report shows and states that they are closing in on that final line of ratification. I hope this is the case. I think they should take the opportunity as the report suggests of joining in and establishing partnerships and cooperation to make that quicker and easier.

And, finally, I would like to point out to every man, that sometimes you see violence and you do nothing about it. Only very recently there are pictures from the United Kingdom of a roomful of people ignoring violence levelled against a woman. So, as we have the Convention today and this debate, I would speak to every man across the whole of the European Union who are represented by every country that sits in this hemicycle. Stand up to violence and do not let it happen.

Thank you.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

17:06:35

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Thank you. Ms Ganira PASHAYEVA please.

Ms Ganira PASHAYEVA

Azerbaijan, FDG 

17:06:40

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Thank you Madam Chair.

First of all I congratulate the Rapporteurs.

Dear colleagues,

Violence against women is a violation of human rights. We must strengthen our fight against it. Interesting proposals and ideas on combating violence against women were voiced here and we support them. I am speaking here on behalf of the women who are victims of violence during armed conflicts. I would like to voice their calls to you.

Dear friends, during armed conflicts, women become victims of massive brutal acts of violence. As a result of Armenians armed aggression and occupation of 20% of our lands, thousands of Azerbaijani women were killed, wounded and subjected to torture. Hundreds of women prisoners and hostages are still being held in unbearable conditions in Armenia and occupied territories of Azerbaijan, are involved in forced labour and are subjected to other acts of violence.

Today tens of thousands of Azerbaijani women live internally displaced person lives and cannot return to their homes.

Armenia refuses to fulfil the UN resolutions, as well as those adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

We call the Parliamentary Assembly to hear the voices and cause of the families of Azerbaijan, of women who were killed, wounded and taken captive by the Armenian armed forces, to provide more active support. For the perpetrators of these terrible crimes to receive the punishment they deserve, the justice to take place.

Many Azerbaijani women in non-governmental organisations are also observing these discussions here. They also call on you to attach more importance to the sensitive issue and take steps.

Dear friends, despite the progress made in the area of the gender equality, woman improvement and the fight against violence against women, there is still a great deal of work to be done. We need to increase our activity in this issue. In particular we should pay greater attention to women's role in the economic life and management.

Dear friends, I must note that Azerbaijan is one of the countries that actively combat violence against women and domestic violence. This is one of the key issues in our country and many laws have been adopted in this direction. Numerous measures are being taken together with international and national partners.

Active cooperation with nongovernmental organisations is carried out in the realisation of this work.

Azerbaijan pays special attention to the goals emphasised in the Council of Europe's gender equality strategy for 2018-2023. Numerous projects are being implemented to achieve effective gender equality.

The number of women in all spheres is growing, but I believe that it is very important to increase the role of women in all areas of society, to demonstrate stronger political commitment and to ensure this issue is among the priorities in each country, in order to combat violence against women more effectively.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

17:09:54

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Thank you. Ms Maura HOPKINS, you have the floor.

Ms Maura HOPKINS

Ireland, EPP/CD 

17:09:59

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Thank you chair and thank you to both rapporteurs for their strong work on this really important issue of gender equality.

It is incredibly important that we continue to keep this issue on the agenda. As other speakers have said, the Istanbul Convention is a very significant and indeed essential international legal instrument, which involves criminalising or legally sanctioning different forms of violence against women: domestic violence, sexual harassment and psychological violence. It is a comprehensive measure to combat violence against women. Because we know that violence against women can have and does have a huge impact on their victims and on society as a whole.

The Istanbul Convention establishes a framework for governments to ensure robust action to prevent, to investigate, to prosecute and ultimately to work to eliminate violence against women and girls. Ireland, on International Women's Day this year, ratified the Istanbul Convention, joining 33 other Council of Europe Member States. And Ireland's ratification this year does provide even more evidence of the success of this Convention which seeks to prevent violence, help victims and prosecute perpetrators.

As a result of the Istanbul Convention, there is an increased urgency and better understanding of the need to prevent violence against women and to support those affected to access judgement. But we will always need to do more. Making the change real for women and for children and increasing their safety is of utmost importance. However, only effective implementation, which includes increased resourcing and increased awareness, will make that change real.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

17:12:19

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Thank you. The next speaker is Ms Nicole TRISSE, please.

Ms Nicole TRISSE

France, NR 

17:12:27

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Thank you Madam President,

Ladies and gentlemen, rapporteurs,

Dear colleagues,

I am delighted that this text is being held today, it is a debate that is particularly close to my heart.

The Council of Europe drafted the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, better known as the "Istanbul Convention". This text deals with the prevention of violations of women's rights, the prosecution of perpetrators of attacks against them, the necessary protection of victims.

The Istanbul Convention serves as a reference for countries that do not belong to the Council of Europe. It is even described as a "gold standard" by the United Nations, which is not the least of the compliments. Despite its undeniable successes, particularly in favour of a certain acculturation of gender equality in most of our European societies, the Istanbul Convention unfortunately remains a fragile achievement that is difficult to establish everywhere.

Thus, it is regrettable that only 34 of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe have ratified it. From this point of view, I can only hope that the 11 signatory States that have not reached this stage, and at least the 6 Member States of the European Union that are in this case, will quickly start the process to this end.

Similarly, I find it deplorable that some insidious speeches aimed at discrediting the content and purpose of the Convention are being propagated on the grounds that it would lead to a devaluation of traditional or family values. Make no mistake about it, these erroneous statements are intended to undermine public support for an avant-garde, emancipatory and protective text for women. It may be surprising to note that the authorities of some States, having ratified the Convention, are now allowing themselves to be called into question and to be attacked unjustifiably.

For the sad and cold reality imposes itself on all of us. In the European Union, one in three women has experienced gender-based violence since the age of 15, while one in ten has experienced some form of sexual violence and one in twenty has been raped. Similarly, every year, 3,500 deaths of women related to domestic violence are recorded in Europe. In France, since the beginning of this year a woman has been killed every three days by her partner or ex-partner.

All these alarming figures remind us, if need be, that the fight against violence against women remains a current struggle. Because the promotion and defence of the Istanbul Convention is part of this existential struggle for fairer and more egalitarian societies, I will give my voice to the texts submitted for our vote today.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

17:15:00

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Thank you Madam. The next speaker is Mr Francesco SORBARA, please.

Mr Francesco SORBARA

Canada 

17:15:07

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Fellow parliamentarians,

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the important topic of gender equality with you today. Women’s economic equality is a key component of gender equality. With equal participation in the economy, women can realize their full potential. This in turn benefits families and communities, and contributes to the sustainable development of a country.

The Rapporteur’s report outlines, as a key priority in advancing gender equality, the promotion of women’s economic empowerment and women’s reconciliation between work and private life.

In the European Union and in Canada, working women continue to be paid less than their male counterparts, unfortunately. This wage gap can exist even when women work the same hours and have similar levels of education and experience as men. In the European Union, in 2017, women earned on average 16% less than men when comparing hourly earnings. The same year, women in Canada earned 13% less than men when measuring hourly wages.

Closing this gender wage gap would benefit not just women, but also the global economy. A recent study indicates that if women and men were to participate equally in the economy, up to $28 trillion would be added to the annual global GDP by 2025. In Canada, steps to address gender equality, a priority for our government, is expected to add 150 billion in incremental GDP by 2026.

So how can we, as parliamentarians, address the gender wage gap in our home countries?

To begin, equal pay for work of equal value can be upheld by our national laws. In Canada, we recently passed legislation to establish a proactive pay equity regime in federally regulated workplaces. Employers in these workplaces must examine their compensation practices and ensure that women and men receive equal pay for work of equal value.

Parliamentarians can also address the gender wage gap by supporting measures that help women balance family and work responsibilities. Women tend to be the primary caregiver, which can limit their participation in the workforce and negatively affect their income.

In Canada, one specific measure was the introduction of a Parental Sharing Benefit, which will provide additional weeks of “use it or lose it” parental benefits when both parents agree to share parental leave. By encouraging men to take parental leave, women can invest more time and energy in the workplace.

In addition, for the first time in Canadian history, our government introduced a gender results framework for its budgets. Every Canadian budget is now produced through a gender lens. Our government's vision for gender equality under this framework highlighted six areas where change is required to advance gender equality: education skills development, economic participation and prosperity, leadership and democratic dissipation of gender-based violence and access to justice, poverty reduction, health and well-being and gender equality around the world.

I invite all parliamentarians, throughout the Assembly, to share your strategies for addressing the gender wage gap, with the goal of empowering women economically. Thank you.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

17:18:14

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Thank you. Mr André VALLINI, you have the floor.

Mr André VALLINI

France, SOC 

17:18:21

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Madam President,

Violence against women is a real scourge that continues to plague European societies. Regardless of country, culture or social background, women still face gender bias and discrimination today, which are unfortunately only the first step towards violence.

In France – as my colleague Nicole Trisse just mentioned – in 2018, a woman died every three days at the hands of her partner or ex-partner, and the situation looks even more dramatic for 2019.

Of course, and fortunately, things are changing. The unacceptable nature of this violence is now reflected in most of the legislation of the Member States of our Organisation. The Council of Europe, for its part, initiated the Istanbul Convention, which was ratified today by 34 member states. A working group, GREVIO, has been set up to monitor the application of this Convention in the Member States and I am pleased that France is one of the States concerned by the next evaluation round.

But the fight against violence against women does not only require changes in legislation. For laws to be enforced, police and judges must be made aware of this issue, which is a criminal law issue and not a private one. Similarly, the education of young children is essential to promote this change in morals. It is necessary to teach boys not to be violent towards girls and girls to consider any violence they may experience as unacceptable.

Today, I am concerned about the increasing number of attacks on the Istanbul Convention in some Member States of our Organisation. These go hand in hand with the rise of populism which is invading the political space and advocating a return to so-called traditional values, as a bulwark against a possible decline of European societies.

It is therefore the duty of all of us, as parliamentarians who are members of this Assembly, to ensure that women's freedom, rights and dignity are protected in our national parliaments.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

17:20:22

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Thank you. The next speaker is Ms Hajnalka JUHÁSZ from Hungary. Push the microphone, please, the button.

Ms Hajnalka JUHÁSZ

Hungary, EPP/CD 

17:20:45

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Thank you Madam President.

Dear colleagues, above all I would like to highlight that the lasting Unity of Europe cannot be established without shared values. In these times it is essential to reinforce our fundamental values and work together as broadly as possible to protect them. With this in mind, it is an important task of the Council of Europe to consistently express a commitment to these core values. This is particularly important with respect to vulnerable groups and the use of institutional measures to combat attacks against women and children and the various forms of violence.

Beyond this it is necessary to make assistance available to victims as well as increasing awareness and providing education as a means of prevention.

The Istanbul Convention is the first instrument created to establish a comprehensive legal framework to prevent domestic violence and protect victims. It defines and criminalises the various forms of violence against women. In addition, it mandates the establishment of an independent expert body monitoring each state and enforcement of the Convention.

Hungary introduced numerous measures in recent years to ensure the objectives of the Convention. Wherever the Istanbul convention defines complex responsibilities on the part of the Member states in the course of satisfying these demands it is necessary to identify the required legislative measures which can be a long process.

I wish also to stress that the European Union is currently in the process of joining the Convention. The EU is able to align with the convention with regard to the questions in its jurisdiction on the condition that the Convention affects common regulations or impacts their scope of implementation. Beyond this, the Member states maintain their own jurisdiction. As the jurisdiction of the EU and the Member states are closely bound, the EU must also join the Convention to allow it to implement the requirements of the Convention in a consistent, coherent and complementary manner. I would like to highlight that these processes cannot be separated. Definition of the requirements and the method of implementation of EU measures is yet to take place on the part of the Commission. Thank you very much indeed.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

17:23:22

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Thank you. The next speaker is Ms Jette CHRISTENSEN, Please.

Ms Jette CHRISTENSEN

Norway, SOC 

17:23:32

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Thank you, and thank you for such a great report.

Unfortunately, 25 years after Beijing we are no longer fighting for things to get better - we are fighting for things not to get worse.

Earlier in this debate, Mr Markus WIECHEL from Sweden tried to explain the backlash that we are discussing here today.

He explained that the backlash on human rights has something to do with immigration. Well, I have to say that, as a woman, I have absolutely nothing to thank the far right movement or far-right parties. There is absolutely no reason to say that the lack of rights for women in Hungary, Austria, Italy, Poland, Romania, the Slovak Republic or the United States, for that matter, has anything to do with immigration.

It is a whole different club that we are up against and that club has found each other. It's a club of anti-abortion, anti-LGBT movement activists, its the conservative group of the Catholic Church, its political conservatives, its European nationalists, its anti-democracy movements and it is representatives from illegal democracies. Those have found each other to fight against women's rights.

I have no idea why they are so afraid of women's rights, but we have to fight against it because women's rights are indeed human rights. And the arguments we are met with is that the women's agenda will crush families and civilisation. 

Women's rights and human rights are civilisation. I also need to add that human beings - no matter their gender, no matter their sexual preferences - do not threaten values. We, humans, create values.

In the fantastic reports we have here in front of us today, we see words that are repeating: adopt and enforce, sign, ratify, introduce legislation and policy. That is great, but unfortunately, no law will work unless the governments in the countries that are taking away our rights actually believe that women's rights are human rights. That's what we all have to fight for together. Thank you.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

17:26:10

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Thank you. The next speaker is Ms Rósa Björk BRYNJÓLFSDÓTTIR, please.

Ms Rósa Björk BRYNJÓLFSDÓTTIR

Iceland, UEL 

17:26:18

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Thank you, Madam President.

I'm very grateful for the opportunity to speak on this very important issue in our Assembly as I've done before and many of us have done before.

The Istanbul Convention represents an ambitious legal framework for protecting women from domestic violence and I am very proud that Iceland has ratified the Istanbul Convention. As is stated in the Resolution, domestic violence is a widespread Human rights violation representing deep-rooted inequality between men and women. We must continue to combat this violence which exist in all our societies. This debate is quite urgent at this point in time because this very crucial Convention has in recent years, as Jette, my colleague from Norway pointed so well out, been threatened by misconception that have derailed its adoption and implementation.

Last year, the Constitutional Court in Bulgaria ruled that the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and girls and domestic violence was unconstitutional. The Court specifically criticised the definition of gender as a social construct stating that the Convention was an example of gender ideology. This is a part of a very concerning development in recent years, where we have witnessed Member States undermining the Convention and its main aims, which is to eliminate violence against women. This phenomenon is a true backlash against women's rights fuelled by far-right extremists' power and political parties. The fear among some countries is that the Istanbul Convention is a vehicle for the promotion of same-sex marriage and non-binary gender identities. This is not the case. The Convention simply makes it clear that domestic violence must be understood in the context of gender inequality in society as a whole. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has an important role to play in monitoring the full implementation of the Convention. It is therefore imperative that the Member States clearly reaffirms its commitment to the Istanbul Convention.

Iceland is often looked upon as the poster child when it comes to gender equality and gender issues but when it comes to gender-based violence, we have a lot to learn, my colleagues, here. The Istanbul Convention is a vital tool for us to campaign against domestic violence and violence against women and children, as for other countries. I would also urge that we, the parliamentarians of this Assembly, will promote this Convention, promoting it at every opportunity, wherever we come, as Mr WHITFIELD mentioned in his speech, both men and women. I'm very happy to see the proportion of men speaking here today. This is vital, this is not a women's issue, this is an issue of all of us. This is a human rights issue.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

17:29:23

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Thank you. Next speaker is Madame CSÖBÖR from Hungary, please.

Ms Katalin CSÖBÖR

Hungary, EPP/CD 

17:29:30

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Thank you, Madam President,

Dear colleagues,

I would like to congratulate the Rapporteur on her comprehensive work. As she pointed out in her report, violence against women is a violation of human rights. I fully agree with Ms GURMAI that strong legislative and political measures are needed to combat this scourge, and against all forms of violence. The Hungarian government continues to place particular emphasis on the content of the Convention and categorically rejects violence against women, and all manifestations of domestic violence.

We are committed to eliminating ill-treatment and supporting the protection of victims on the basis of European and Hungarian culture, which considers respect for women, equality between men and women and that of the family as one of its fundamental values. The Hungarian administration protects victims by all means, in many respects beyond the requirements of the Istanbul Convention.

The functioning of the institutional system, the organisation of prevention campaigns or government measures, such as the creation of crisis management centres, the increase in the capacity of housing for victims of domestic violence, the opening of confidential places of refuge or awareness-raising campaigns on the unacceptability of domestic violence, serve to combat this phenomenon.

Hungary is already a contracting party to many international conventions aimed at protecting women against violence, such as the Council of Europe's Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights with their individual complaints mechanism or the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Hungarian protection system, reinforced by international conventions, provided by a national legal system and governmental measures, already meets the needs of victims of abuse. The current national legislation is in line with the provisions of the Istanbul Convention. The Penal Code and the amended Law on the Protection of Children have introduced specific provisions, and the Parliament has even adopted a resolution on the strategic objectives in this field.

Since the Convention also contains provisions that the Hungarian Government is not in a position to transpose into national law – because they are in contradiction with the values of the Constitution – we will need to clarify these points.

In conclusion, Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, we remain committed to combating domestic violence, following the recommendations of the Istanbul Convention. The Hungarian government continues its efforts to eliminate all forms of violence, regardless of ratification of the Convention and in accordance with the Hungarian Constitution.

Thank you very much for your attention.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

17:33:01

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Thank you. The next speaker is Ms Rita TAMAŠUNIENĖ, please.

Ms Rita TAMAŠUNIENĖ

Lithuania, EC 

17:33:11

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Thank you Madam Chair.

Dear colleagues,

I'm afraid there are some different opinions today but I hope it will be interesting for the Rapporteur.

The Istanbul Convention is aimed at combating violence against women of gender-based and domestic violence.

Lithuania has signed the Convention but has not ratified it.

I belong to the majority of the Lithuanian Parliament that abstains from ratification.

I would like to explain why I am in such a position, although I don't justify any form of violence against women, or against any person.

Some of the provisions of the Convention are contradictory.

Together with the noble purpose of preventing violence against women ideological attitudes that are incompatible with natural human rights, and alien to the law of many countries, education system and moral values of many parents are imposed on the public. They create great public concern that the ratification of the Convention can lead to major and irreversible social change in society.

Of particular concern are the provisions of Article 14 of the Convention which obliges the countries which ratified the Convention to include teaching material on non-stereotyped gender rules, informal curricula and all levels of education. Such a consolidation of a legal obligation contradicts the rights of parents and guardians to take care of the religious and moral education of their children and rules according to their own convictions, without any restrictions as it is established in the constitution of Lithuania.

Presently, laws, legislation and cooperation between all possible institutions in response to cases of violence have already been adopted in Lithuania. That is, more prevention and youth education on this issue are continuously implemented. Lithuania aims to improve the situation of combined cases and causes of violence: alcoholism, drug addiction, poverty and lack of employment, as well as assisting and supporting victims of violence. In my opinion no one – a child or a senior, a man or a woman, a homeless person or a disabled person – should experience any form of violence.

The authors of the Convention made sure that the state could not make an exception to controversial and unacceptable provisions when ratifying the Convention where an all or nothing approach by the authors of Convention is another important reason to refuse to ratify it.

Today the public doubts as to how the provisions of the Convention would be applied in practice, and what new responsibilities and problems would be created for the State and education institutions, liberties and rights of citizens and society as a whole. Thank you for your attention.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

17:36:44

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Next speaker is Mrs CHRISTOFFERSEN, please.

Ms Lise CHRISTOFFERSEN

Norway, SOC 

17:36:50

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Madam President,

The Istanbul Convention is one of the most important conventions of the Council of Europe. It concerns half of our population. Violence against women is not acceptable, neither on the streets nor behind closed doors, covered as family affairs. Women's rights are human rights, neither more nor less. Some Members of this Assembly have consistently opposed the aim of the Istanbul Convention. They have deliberately tried to spread a misinterpretation of the Convention as an attack on family values. Attack on what kind of family values, I might ask?

Let them not succeed. Is it a family value to commit violence against your spouse or your mother? I have regrettably, on several occasions in this Assembly, noticed that ultraconservative religious forces try to limit the human rights of women. I have even asked the question if this Assembly is a place for us to be, related to the Vatican's strong efforts to meddle into the subject of women's reproductive health.

I urge both female and male Members of this Assembly to show your resistance towards ancient attitudes against women and support the resolution put forward by our Rapporteur, Ms Zita GURMAI.

The Istanbul Convention is also outside the Council of Europe, referred to as a gold standard in the fight against violence against women. Thirty-four of our Member States have ratified. Eleven have signed. Two countries, Russia and Azerbaijan, have neither signed nor ratified. Why not? But Azerbaijan is on its way, we heard earlier today.

Signing and ratifying, though, is not enough. Implementation is what matters. The Resolution points out that there is a huge gap between law and reality.

Norway ratified the Istanbul Convention in 2017 and will report on the follow-up to the Council of Europe's monitoring agency GREVIO in the spring of 2020. GREVIO follows up the report with a visit to Norway in March 2021, and a report in January 2022. The report will be sent to our parliament for further follow-up. In addition to our government's report to GREVIO, a shadow report will be provided by civil society.

Norway is not perfect. Partner killing, sexual harassment, partner violence, sexual violence and rape, extensive control, persecution and threats affect women to a far extent. Statistics show that domestic violence against women is a serious problem. One in ten Norwegian women say that they have been exposed to serious physical domestic violence.

This is unacceptable. Women's rights are human rights. Therefore, I expect this Assembly unanimously to support the recommendations in this report.

Thank you.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

17:40:07

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Next speaker is Mr. BILDARRATZ, please.

Mr Jokin BILDARRATZ

Spain, ALDE 

17:40:16

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Madam President.

In Spain, the Istanbul Convention has been discussed in recent years. In July 2016, an 18 year old young woman was raped by five individuals in San Fermín. You will know it as the “La Manada” case. And it was only last Friday the Supreme Court classified this crime as rape. Because until then, in no jurisdiction was this crime regarded as rape, but rather as an assault and sexual abuse. It was our society and civil society in general who in the past two years exerted pressure on the political parties and the judiciary for what this woman underwent to be classified differently.

So to us the Istanbul Convention is a mirror in which we can look and it will help us to determine the human rights situation both for men and women. If any of us in our countries were to look at the statistics, if we were to look at data about the situation of equality and violence, it is quite likely that these statistics are devestating. And perhaps, we could also feel ashamed of these figures and we need to look in the mirror, as I said. There is a long way to go, but we have to bear in mind very clearly that only an egalitarian society in all aspects truly guarantees that men’s violence against women can be eradicated.

Now the Istanbul Convention has defined how we can achieve that. It is something that is endorsed by all political parties. But just like migration there is a discourse that has emerged and that is extremist, far-right, homophobic, xenophobic and proof of machismo. These forces are creeping into all governments. We have to condemn those who do not recognise sexual violence that affects half of our population. If you allow that, you cannot call yourself a democracy. In Spain it is happening too, the Vox party is an example of this. We must pay attention to what is happening in our institutions because we are truly the mirror of our respective societies. Thank you.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

17:44:00

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Thank you, too. Next speaker is Mr COAKER, please.

Mr Vernon COAKER

United Kingdom, SOC 

17:44:04

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Thank you very much, Madam President.

I think it's astonishing that, here we are in 2019, and we're reading these brilliant reports which are before us about violence against women, about the lack of gender equality. It is quite astonishing. Reading the report, there was a woman, Olympe de Gouges, a French activist and author, who in 1791 wrote "A Declaration of the Rights of Women and the Female Citizen". Can people in here imagine, if she was 228 years old and coming and sitting in here, imagining things that she was writing about in that declaration, that she would come to this chamber and still see about violence to women? Still see about gender inequality? Still see about the denial of rights to women in the workplace?

She would be astonished, and we should be ashamed of the fact that our world has yet to create an opportunity for women to have the same rights as men. I have two grandchildren, who are four and one, what expectations can we have for them? If I could advance, in 30 or 40 years, what sort of world would I expect for them? Would they still be coming to chambers like this? Still be standing up in parliament's like this? Still be demanding from their governments the same sorts of rights as men?

Of course, progress has been made, but it simply has to be quicker. We simply have to move faster than we are at the present time. My colleague from Iceland, and my colleague from Norway, other women who've made speeches in this chamber: indeed, as men, point out that this is a Human Rights issue. It's not a women's issue. It is an issue for men as well, as it is for women, and we need to stand together with them. We need to work together in order to ensure that we move on, but we simply have to go faster, and we simply have to do better than we are at the present time.

That's a message for my own Government as well. We often in the United Kingdom preach to other people about what they should be doing. It's about time my own Government, alongside just signing the Istanbul Convention, actually ratified it, as my colleague Martin WHITFIELD pointed out. We need to ensure that we ratify it. And, of course, one of the problems the UK has in ratifying it is that we have to ensure that rights for women extend across the whole four countries of the United Kingdom. Not just as the Domestic Abuse Bill does at the present time, refer to England and Wales. So there is a challenge for my own country.

We need to wake up, we need to stand up. And, if we're going to preach to everybody else about the rights of women and the need to pursue equality at faster rate, then why doesn't the UK Government ratify this more quickly than it has done? Why don't we do that as soon as we possibly can?

So, Madam President, progress has been made, but I think all of us want to see that go much more quickly. I don't want to be 228 and stood here making the same speeches as we are now.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

17:47:17

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Thank you, thank you very much. Next speaker is Mrs BOSCHI, please.

 

 

Ms Maria Elena BOSCHI

Italy, SOC 

17:47:24

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Thank you, President.

The Council of Europe is the home of democracy and in its 70 years of history it has often paved the way for the affirmation of new rights and has been, and still is, a beacon for the protection of the women and men of our continent, especially the most fragile.

Among the many achievements to be proud of, the approval of the Istanbul Convention is certainly one of the most important; almost five years after its entry into force, it is the most modern and ambitious legal instrument for the protection of women who are victims of violence.

In these five years many countries have made important steps forward, starting with the Istanbul Convention; among these is my country, Italy, one of the first to ratify the Convention –moreover with a unanimous vote of the entire Parliament– and then to implement them with important public economic resources, for a first national anti-violence plan, to support victims, focusing above all on prevention and education, starting with schools, and also changing legislation to have more effective tools to protect victims of repression, introducing feminicide; also providing for a committee in Parliament on feminicide.

And yet I am worried. We are worried because in the last year the new 5 Star Movement and League Government has blocked the transfer of resources for anti-violence centres and shelters, blocked the implementation of the National anti-violence plan. But above all what worries me is a new climate that seems to be everywhere in Europe –even in the countries that sit here at the Council of Europe, even in Italy– that tries to go back. It seems that someone wants to sabotage the principles of the Istanbul Convention, to undermine those legal principles and the protection of women's rights. And he often does so by falsely upholding values.

This is also the case in Italy. A majority senator, close to Matteo Salvini, Senator Pillon, has presented a bill on which a great public debate has been sparked, because it openly violates the Istanbul Convention: it provides for compulsory mediation for women who want to separate even if they are victims of violence, the possibility of entrusting children who are victims of witnessing violence to their fathers in the event of separation. We are fighting in Parliament, and we will also fight in the streets, so that this proposal does not become law. Yet it is a symptom of what is happening, not only in Italy.

So I say –as a convinced Catholic, practitioner, but also as a woman who has always been committed to the rights of other women, who has been called, also for her institutional roles, to implement the Istanbul Convention to the Government– that there can be no false value of the family, or of unity, or in some way of the interest of minors when there is a violation of a Human right, when there is violence, when the rights of persons are violated. There can be no doubt –we must be clear– that where there is a woman who tries to free herself and her children from violence or a threat, there is no violation of the rights of the family or the person, the violation is by the man who beats his partner in front of his children, who rapes her, who comes to kill her.

We need to be clear about who is responsible and who is the victim.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

17:50:36

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Thank you very much. The next speaker is Ms Béatrice FRESKO-ROLFO, please.

Ms Béatrice FRESKO-ROLFO

Monaco, ALDE 

17:50:43

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Thank you, Madam President,

First of all, I would like to thank Ms KOVÁCS and Ms GURMAI for the reports they have prepared on behalf of the Committee, they will be very useful to our Assembly.

These two resolutions are intrinsically linked, and I am delighted that we are having this joint debate.

As a preliminary point, I would like to remind my colleagues that inequalities and stereotypes are essentially based on a social construction, i.e. on mentalities, on the ideas we have about the roles of women and men in our societies. And I would remind you that stereotypes tend to make acceptable, behaviours that are in fact unacceptable.

From the preamble to the Istanbul Convention, it is clear that equality between women and men is a key element in the prevention of violence against women. That this violence is a manifestation of the historically unequal power relations that have led to the domination and discrimination of women by men. It is also said that violence against women is gender-based and, finally, that women and girls are more likely to be subjected to domestic violence, sexual harassment, rape, genital mutilation and forced marriage.

The countries that are signatories to the Convention, have found this international instrument to be an excellent working tool for combating this violence in a structured way. 

I had the honour of being appointed General Rapporteur of the parliamentary network that actively combats violence against women. I would like to remind my colleagues of just one figure. One in three women experiences gender-based violence. Not only that, but in recent years there has been a significant decline in women's rights at the individual, institutional and structural levels. This decline is mainly in education and health.

I believe that here, we are all aware that gender stereotypes and prejudices hinder the emancipation of women. That they are an obstacle to their empowerment. Glass ceilings and sexist behaviour in the workplace, or in politics, de facto relegate women to secondary roles.

Before concluding, I would like to thank the President for everything she has done to promote women's rights.

Ladies and gentlemen, I urge you to vote in favour of these two resolutions, which seek to lead us towards social progress.

We must prevent and combat gender inequality, because equality will benefit everyone: women, girls, men and boys.

Thank you very much.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

17:53:24

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Thank you, Madam. The next speaker is Mr Thomas PRINGLE, please.

Mr Thomas PRINGLE

Ireland, UEL 

17:53:38

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The Istanbul Convention is a very important document for the people of Ireland and should touch the standard and high estate deals with violence against women. In Ireland, one in five women have suffered an intimate partner violence and domestic abuse. Nine out of ten women who are killed, are killed by someone known to them with 56% of them killed by a partner or ex-partner. That in itself shows the importance of the Convention and the need to implement it and the measures of the Istanbul Convention as quickly as possible in Ireland.

With regard to the Convention, the Council of Europe states "in addition to addressing governments and non-governmental organisations, national parliaments and local authorities, the Convention needs to send a clear message to society as a whole. Every man, every woman, every boy and girl, every parent, every boy and girlfriend must learn that violence, any kind of violence, is not the right way to solve difficulties and live a peaceful life. Everybody must understand that now and in the future violence against women and domestic violence is no longer tolerated. Obviously, we can enact and ratify all we like but unless we have the resources to back up the actions we are going to fail those to whom the bill is intended.

That was a concern that I would have with Ireland and implementing this Convention. We only ratified the Convention in February of this year despite his have been having been signed in 2011. The government of Ireland says that it did not want to ratify the Convention until all the necessary legislation was in place. On the face of it that seems like a noble intention but in reality, is it? Why should it have taken our government so long to ratify it? Is it that they would like to implement the Convention but not quite yet? That is my fear with us.

In Ireland, the government has decided to do the implementation through the adoption of action points with 72 actions mandated in the most recent strategy document, the Second national strategy on domestic sexual and gender-based violence. Yet the government too slow to say how many of the actual actions have been initiated and that is telling in itself, I believe. The bulk of the aims and the strategy are aimed at changing societal attitudes toward awareness-raising to help prevent domestic and sexual violence and improving services to victims and holding perpetrators to account. Many of these strategies are not at governmental level to implement and the way that we deliver these services in Ireland.

My very real fear would be that the government will use us as an excuse for the delay and lack of implementation in the strategy. And I believe that the Council of Europe needs to be aware of this when monitoring our compliance with the Convention. As well as this, in my own part of Ireland, County Donegal, we have a locally-based domestic violence organisation, Lifeline (Inishowen) that has been forced to shut down because they do not meet the government model of delivery of services, yet they have provided a service in an area that had no services over the years. Hopefully this is not the type of ratification that we will see you on a wider scale. Thank you.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

17:56:42

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Thank you, too.

Dear colleagues, I would like to remind you again about the vote behind the President's Chair for Vice President of the Assembly in respect of the Russian Federation. The vote will be closed at the end of the sitting. Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Dimitri HOUBRON, please.

Mr Dimitri HOUBRON

France, NR 

17:57:05

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Thank you, Madam President,

First of all, I would like to commend the work of Ms Zita GURMAI for her report, which provides us with a detailed assessment of the concrete achievements made possible by the Istanbul Convention. Your report also provides us with a form of a new roadmap to address the future issues and challenges facing us. I think that everyone here today can thank you for this contribution.

If only one figure was needed to justify the interest of the Convention, I would say that one in three women in the European Union reports that they have been victims of gender-based violence, on one or more occasions since the age of 15. This figure is much more than a statistic, it is a disgrace. I'm telling you right now. At the slightest attack on this Convention, let us remember this figure. This text, as you indicate in your report, constitutes the gold standard for the United Nations in its work to combat violence against women. May this commendable reference help us to better apply the Convention and meet the objectives it has set for itself.

I must admit that I was particularly concerned by the origins and foundations of the attacks against the Convention. Your report is very useful because we can clearly identify the fact that these criticisms are not based on misunderstanding or misinterpretation but on the manifest, stated desire, which you do not hide, to challenge equality between women and men, and to prevent the end of a patriarchal mentality that relegates women to second place.

Although each and every one of us here has been able to learn about the countries in which certain political leaders and groups, religious institutions or non-governmental organisations oppose the Convention, it is not for me to mention them on the pretext that France is not mention. I would even add that I am advocating that the French Penal Code should scrupulously incorporate Article 18 of the Istanbul Convention, which allows, for example, a woman who is a victim of physical violence to receive specific legal protection even if she has not filed a complaint for lack of identity documents stolen by her aggressor.

Finally, the report seeks to list the Council of Europe's initiatives to counter-attack – but also to give legal education – in countries that still raise concerns that obstruct their ratification of the Convention.

Beyond the symbolic need for a continuous increase in the number of countries that have ratified the Istanbul Convention, when I read the report I feel it is essential to increase our resources so that consensus can be reached on this text, with the widest possible and most successful practical application.

Thank you very much.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

17:59:45

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Thank you, too. The next speaker is Mr David M. WELLS, please.

Mr David M. WELLS

Canada 

17:59:52

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Fellow parliamentarians, good afternoon,

I am honoured to be here with you all today to discuss a topic of great importance to all our parliaments: violence against women. I wish to thank the rapporteurs Ms Zita GURMAI and Ms Elvira KOVÁCS for their important and well written reports.

The adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in 1979, and Canada’s ratification of this Convention in 1981, signified a global commitment to taking action for gender equality.

For our countries to achieve greater gender equality, we must ensure that women have equitable access to opportunities in education, to the workplace, to healthcare, and to the decision-making process. However, if women are experiencing and fleeing from violence, they may not be able to take advantage of these opportunities.

Violence against women is a violation of Human rights. Violence against women closes the door to their full potential. Violence against women is a barrier to gender equality.

As outlined by the rapporteur, the Istanbul Convention is a significant achievement for the Council of Europe. The Convention provides a comprehensive framework for understanding, addressing and eliminating violence against women.

In Canada, as around the world, women tend to be more likely than men to be victims of certain crimes, such as criminal harassment, sexual assault and trafficking in persons. In 2014, when all other risk factors were taken into account, women faced a 20% higher risk of violent victimisation compared to men. Canada’s efforts to combat violence against women include the Federal strategy to prevent and address gender-based violence, which is based on three pillars: prevention; support for survivours and their families; and promotion of responsive legal and justice systems.

Parliamentary committees in Canada have undertaken various studies, published reports and made recommendations for legislative and policy changes related to violence against women. For example, the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence recently released a report examining sexual harassment and violence in the Canadian Armed Forces.

As well, I am a member of the Canadian Senate Committee on Human Rights, and we are studying the topic of forced an coursed sterilisation of women around the world.

Eliminating violence against women remains a priority for Canada, both at home and abroad. I look forward to working together to end this violence, and towards gender equality. Thank you.

 

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

18:02:32

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Thank you. Next speaker is Mrs PAVIĆEVIĆ, please.

Ms Sanja PAVIĆEVIĆ

Montenegro, SOC 

18:02:39

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Thank you, Chair.

Please let me first congratulate the Rapporteurs for their excellent job. I'm proud to say that Montenegro was one of the first signatories of the Istanbul Convention and one of the first countries to ratify it. This, I believe, along with many activities implemented since the entry into force of the Convention, shows the country's strong commitment to the fight against violence against women and domestic violence and its willingness to take further steps towards full compliance with the Convention's obligations.

As noted in the report prepared by Ms GURMAI, GREVIO recently published its first evaluation report for Montenegro. I am very satisfied to say that GREVIO, in this report, recognised the progress made by Montenegro in building a legislative policy and institutional framework to prevent and combat violence against women. GREVIO welcomed, in particular, the introduction of important legislation, action plans and strategies which address some forms of violence against women, in particular, domestic violence. For example, the law on domestic violence protection as the key legislative act defining the Montenegrin approach to combating domestic violence, introduced for the first time emergency accommodation and restraining orders, as well as other important rights for domestic violence victims, such as the right to Legal Aid.

Amendments to the Criminal Code have also been made, ensuring the criminalisation of other forms of violence against women, as required by the Convention, including the criminalisation of all non-consensual sexual acts. Particular attention has also been paid to strengthening the services providing assistance to women victims of gender-based violence, including the mechanism for free Legal Aid. Along with the aforementioned, we have also recognised the importance of conducting activities aimed at raising awareness of all forms of violence against women and the promotion of the Instanbul Convention at national and local levels.

A crucial role, in this respect, has been played by the Parliament of Montenegro and its Gender Equality Committee, which, as a significant institutional mechanism for the protection of women's rights, has promoted the Convention by organising a women's parliament session, participating in global campaigns, organising thematic sessions, debates, hearings and other similar activities. Building on progress already achieved, we will continue to invest our efforts to address the findings and recommendations of the GREVIO Report and to strive to provide conditions for the full implementation of the Instanbul Convention.

Thank you for your attention.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

18:05:39

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Thank you, too. The next speaker is Ms Stefana MILADINOVIĆ, please.

Ms Stefana MILADINOVIĆ

Serbia, SOC 

18:05:47

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Thank you, Madam Chair.

Dear Elvira, dear Zita. I want to congratulate both of you on excellent reports. It is a pleasure to be part of this constructive discussion today.

Dear colleagues, strategies, agendas, recommendations of international institutions have their purpose in their contribution to the primary change of awareness –ours– and awareness of our citizens. Gender equality is a mission of changing the awareness of each of us and encompasses a wide range of ideas and policies.

In 2013, the Serbian Parliament established a Women parliamentary network, which we had opportunity to promote here in this Assembly. I would like to point out that one of the first legislative activities of our network was the ratification of the Istanbul convention. Serbia has thus become the eighth countries to ratify this Convention, then contributed to its entry into force.

Our commitment to the fight against violence in these years, in cooperation with organisations and institutions directly involved in this issue, resulted in the adoption of Lex specialis in our Parliament, the Law on the prevention of domestic violence, as well as some amendments on criminal code, namely the abolition of statutes of limitation of sexual criminal acts against minors, a life sentence for perpetrators of criminal acts of rape against minors, prohibition of forced marriage, etc.

I would like to point out that Serbia through the government body for Sustainable Development Goals and through the established Parliamentary focus group, attempt to bring significant implementations of UN Agenda 2030, especially goals 3, 4, 5 and 8. In the past two years, the governmental and the local authorities have designed special measures in order to further economic improvement of women, health care and education with special focus on women from the rural areas.

The gender policies, however successful, must be constantly updated in accordance with the time we live in and the needs of the community and the market. This time also requires special gender policies and we should agree that those policies must be in our digital agendas. Starting from the fact that without peace and stability there is no development and being aware that of resolving of key issues regarding future and prosperity of the whole Balkans.

We launched initiatives gathering all the colleagues from the region addressing gender has issues and exchanging examples of problems but also good practices. Creating more solid associations with women in the region, mutual support and encouraging dialogue, contributes to stability in the region and the preservation of peace. And more women in politics contributes with the new quality in decision-making and management and undoubtedly lead to the more functional and better society.

And the last sentence: regardless of our ideological beliefs, aware of the importance of women political activism in solving the life issues of our fellow citizens, avoiding diversity, we can find common goals and I'm sure that we can discuss and probably with consensus deal with our problems. Thank you.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

18:09:10

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Thank you, Madam. Next speaker is Mrs OHLSSON, please.

Ms Carina OHLSSON

Sweden, SOC 

18:09:19

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President, dear colleagues, first of all I would like to say thank you for your excellent report.

In Sweden, every fourth woman will at some point in her life be exposed to violence in a close relationship.

Around 100,000 young people are estimated to live under the oppression of honour.

Men's violence against women and honour-related violence and oppression are serious problems for the whole of society, and can never be accepted.

Countering such violence is a high priority for the Swedish government. We have had, since 1998, special legislation against men's violence against women. As GREVIO wrote, Swedish leadership has placed gender equality high on the political agenda, both nationally and internationally. It has framed the eradication of violence against women and domestic violence as a gender inequality issue. The gendered nature of violence against women is clearly recognised in all policies, measures, training, documents and public discourse.

Sweden's leading role in preventing and combating violence against women also finds expression in law-making.

The women's peace reform in 1998 is the first example of legislation that fully recognised the gendered nature of violence against women resulting from an imbalance in power relations between women and men by introducing the criminal offence of gross violation of women's integrity. It is gender specific in nature and an early example of legislation aimed at criminalising the continuum of violence which women often experience in abusive relationships.

Good words - but that's not enough.

We must continuously follow up on legislation. Therefore last year we implemented a new sex crime law based on voluntary action, tightened the punishment for several sexual offences and introduced a completely new offence of negligence.

Other important efforts can be strengthened such as support for women and girls exposed to violence and people living in an honour-prevailing context to report crimes and go through a legal process.

Measures were needed to change the behaviour of those who practice violence, therefore we have a telephone line that is aimed at the problem. Since the telephone line opened in February this year we have seen positive tendencies where men who contacted the telephone line have sought help after the call to stop practising violence.

Every man who stops beating is a step forward.

We can never accept that people are subjected to violence and oppression and have their lives limited. As Ms Jette CHRISTENSEN said before, women's rights are human rights and human rights are women's rights.

Thank you.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

18:12:50

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Thank you. Next is Ms Stella CREASY, please.

Ms Stella CREASY

United Kingdom, SOC 

18:12:57

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Thank you, Chair.

I want to start by congratulating Ms Zita GURMAI and Ms Elvira KOVÁCS on some fantastically powerful reports that show what can be done in the Council of Europe to promote equality.

Crucially, they are based on fact - not fiction.

It is really important in this place that we do not allow fiction and hatred to colour what we do to promote equality.

So let me say, loud and clear, to all the many men in this room who stood up so fantastically day today to be allies; nobody is an ally if they use a proposed concern about violence against women to shield their hatred of people on the basis of their religion or their colour.

You do not speak in our name, sir. You do not represent an ally in a world of Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump. We do not need you to claim a concern for sexual violence.

We need the men in this room to stand with us and call it out for what it is, which is gender-based. That is why the Istanbul Convention is so important.

But I really want to talk today about how my country is failing to meet the ambitions of the Istanbul Convention and to ask for the Council of Europe's help. Because you have been told that the UK is nearly going to ratify this convention through our domestic abuse legislation.

I come here today to appeal on behalf of a million women in Northern Ireland who will not have the protection of the Council of Europe and the Istanbul convention, because this legislation will not reach Northern Ireland - a place in my country where there is no stalking legislation, where there is no definition of coercive control, where they need the protection that this legislation will offer.

I also come to speak on behalf of the migrant women that this legislation will not cover, women who will be discriminated against in our immigration system because my government has written this legislation to avoid being able to deal with those issues, to keep the people it needs to keep in power. And why has it done that? Because it wants to stop us changing the law to make sure that every woman in the UK can exercise her reproductive rights.

In Northern Ireland, if you are raped and you become pregnant and seek a termination, you will face a longer prison sentence than the person who attacked you.

None of these situations will make the UK compliant with the Istanbul Convention, but it is only this place that can hold my government to account and refuse to let it ignore the women of Northern Ireland and ignore the migrant women, because it is politically expedient to do so.

So I come here today to ask for those allies, the feminists, the men, the women, who stand together recognising that violence against women harms us all, to ask you to speak up for them. Not to let my government - through smoke and mirrors - pretend it's ratifying the Istanbul Convention, but to listen to the suffragettes who called to all of us that we needed deeds not words.

Please support our amendments today and please stand up for every woman in the United Kingdom.

Thank you.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

18:15:56

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Thank you, too. Next speaker is Mrs TOMIĆ, please.

 

 

Ms Violeta TOMIĆ

Slovenia, UEL 

18:16:01

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Thank you Madam Chair.

Dear colleagues, I would like to express my full support to the report on the Istanbul Convention on violence against women by the Rapporteurs Ms Zita GURMAI and to the draft resolution adopted on June 5th this year by the committee, and also Ms Elvira KOVÁCS for the excellent work.

Violence against women is a crime. It is a Human rights violation, a form of serious gender-based inequality and discrimination which is extremely harmful both for the victims and for the society. All forms of violence against women including gender-based violence, sexual assault, rape, femicide, must end immediately. Upmost serious legal and other measures for prevention of all crime and violence against women must be enacted by the States.

I therefore urge all of the Council of Europe Member States which haven't ratified the Istanbul Convention so far to do so immediately without hesitation and without any delay, and to start its implementation. Each minute of delay means more crime more victims and more suffering. Without prompt and full implementation of this crucial and vital instrument for the protection of women's rights, [the Convention] remains a powerless tiger with no impact.

And yet in the EU as recent studies show, every third woman since the age of 15 has experienced violence of hate crime based on gender.

The ratification and full implementation of the Convention is the most important guarantee for protection of women against violence, misuse, sexual violence, and femicide because of their gender.

Last but not least my special concern goes to Eastern European states which under the strong influence of churches and conservative politics are tied to patriarchy, sexism, chauvinism, misogyny, and other such hatred towards women and girls.

Therefore we all have a long way to go from words to actions. Thank you.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

18:18:35

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Thank you, too. Next speaker is Mr SHEPPARD, please.

Mr Tommy SHEPPARD

United Kingdom, NR 

18:18:44

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Thank you Chair.

Scotland is a relatively small country of just over 5 million people. But every week, in Scotland there are more than one thousand incidents of domestic abuse reported to the police. In more than 80% of these incidents, the victim is a woman. In more than 99% of those cases the perpetrator is a man.

So what we have is a systemic, endemic, campaign of violence against women by men in our country. To a greater or lesser degree, that campaign is replicated in every other country represented in this chamber here today.

We know that the backdrop against which this takes place is the general position of women in our society, as well as the fact that they have unequal status, power and reward.

That is why the Istanbul Convention and other international agreements, such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, are absolutely correct to pinpoint the need to tackle that inequality and remove it.

Until we are confident that we have eradicated that inequality across all social, economic and legal aspects, then we cannot be confident that we will end the violence and harassment against women which takes place in our society.

Now, like other members of the UK delegation, I am a little embarrassed to report that the United Kingdom has not yet ratified the Convention.

It is a source of great regret. I think all of us parliamentarians are pressing the Government to do so at the earliest possible opportunity.

But I am pleased that in Scotland, the Scottish Government - although it does not have the legal personality to sign international agreements - has incorporated the Istanbul Convention's objectives into every aspect of its programme for government. In particular, in developing and increasing the funding for Rape Crisis centres in our country, and in its programme against violence against women and girls.

I want to end by talking about the role of men in this debate. Because I don't think that we can just play a supportive role. It is men that need to lead the campaign to change the bigoted and prejudiced views of other men.

We need to call out those attitudes and we need to fight against them. That is our responsibility. We talk about the need to push back against the pushback that there has been against this Convention. One of the things that hasn't been so far mentioned, is the rather insidious suggestion that there is a grey area between what is sexual harassment and normal human affection and contact.

I think that that, Madam President, is nonsense. There is not a man in this room who does not understand when physical contact is of a sexual nature, and who should not understand when it is inappropriate.

In fact, if there are men who don't understand that difference, then I don't think that they are qualified to hold public office in the first place.

There is much that we still need to do, but we commend and support the Report and hope to see more progress in the future.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

18:22:03

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Thank you, thank you very much. Next speaker is Madame BOUTIN-SWEET, please.

Ms Marjolaine BOUTIN-SWEET

Canada 

18:22:10

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Thank you, Madam,

Dear parliamentary colleagues,

As a Canadian Member of Parliament, I am pleased to be with you for this session entitled "The Istanbul Convention on Violence against Women: Achievements and Challenges".

Articles 12 and 18 of the Istanbul Convention state that measures to prevent violence and measures to protect and support victims must take into account the specific needs of vulnerable persons due to particular circumstances.

Indeed, we know that some groups of women are more likely to be victims of violence. In Canada, this is particularly true for indigenous women and girls. More than 1,200 – and possibly as many as 4,000 – indigenous women have been victims of homicide, have died in suspicious circumstances, or have been or are missing.

In order to identify the systemic causes of violence against Aboriginal women, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls was created in 2016. In its final report released in June 2019, the National Survey concluded that there is a "significant, persistent and deliberate trend towards violating and infringing human and indigenous rights, both systemically and on the basis of race or gender". This situation causes "disappearances, murders and violence against Aboriginal women and girls" in Canada.

To end violence, the National Survey made 231 separate calls for justice, many of which were directed to different levels of government on human and indigenous rights, culture, health and well-being, human safety and justice. Canadian parliamentarians can also be involved in implementing these calls for justice.

Indeed, parliaments and parliamentarians can play a key role in the fight to eliminate violence against women. This role is explicitly recognized by Article 70 of the Istanbul Convention, which invites parliaments to participate in the monitoring of measures taken to implement the Convention.

Parliamentarians must ensure that the laws in force in their respective states protect victims of violence, that their governments' actions to prevent violence are effective and that their governments respect their international human rights and women's rights commitments.

Ending violence against women is everyone's responsibility.

Thank you.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

18:24:44

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Thank you. The next speaker is Ms Miren GORROTXATEGUIf, from Spain.

Ms Miren GORROTXATEGI

Spain, UEL 

18:25:00

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I would like to draw your attention to one of the articles in the Istanbul Convention, Article 36, which establishes the principle of consent: prior consent to sexual relations as the basis for determining whether there has been a sexual assault.

This principle is based on quite simple premises: men and women have the same rights to start an intimate relationship on the basis of equality. We are also entitled to enjoy such relations this equally and above all without fear and not be assaulted if we show ourselves or move in public areas. It’s difficult to understand that violence against women is not a private matter. It is a social matter for which the public authorities should accept responsibility.

If we accept these premises, first of all you have the idea, the principle, of consent. The Convention clearly stipulates that you have to base things on consent. However, very few Member states that have consent in their legislation in order to decide what is to be regarded as a crime. Rather it is much more common for states to legislate on assault on the basis of violence.

This has also been described by another speaker, the case where five men took a women to a doorway and raped her, and the legal proceedings were based on whether or not intimation or violation were present. Whether the girl or the woman was a friend of a friend or not? Did she fight back or not? But that does not matter, what is clear is that women did not want to be penetrated by five men. That is the case that was mentioned earlier. You can only base a sexual relationship on consent. If the response is no, it is to be considered as rape.

I would like to point out that the importance of consent in legislation on sexual abuse of women, and would like to draw the attention of the states that have not signed, that they sign, and those that have signed, that they should implement this properly. Thank you.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

18:28:21

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Thank you, Madam, thank you. Next speaker is Mrs ZAHID, please.

Ms Salma ZAHID

Canada 

18:28:27

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Fellow parliamentarians,

Thank you for being here today to discuss gender equality, a topic that is of great importance to each of our countries. In Canada and in the European Union, we have made significant efforts to mainstream gender considerations in the work of our parliaments and governments.

During our presidency of the G7, Canada actively sought to mainstream gender equality in the work of the G7. For example, Canada created a Gender Equality Advisory Council composed of leaders from around the globe to provide advice during our presidency. We are happy to hear that the French G7 presidency will be adopting this same initiative going forward.

The use of gender mainstreaming is essential to advancing gender equality. The Council of Europe’s Gender Equality Strategy of 2018 to 2023 says that “achieving gender mainstreaming in all policies and measures” is a priority for joint action by all stakeholders.

We must ask ourselves, as parliamentarians, what can we do to improve the incorporation of gender in our work?

To begin, parliamentarians can promote the establishment, or support the work of, a committee dedicated to women and gender equality. In Canada’s Parliament, we have a Standing Committee on the Status of Women, of which I am vice-chair. This committee studies policies, programmes, expenditures and legislation of departments that conduct work on the status of women and gender equality.

Similarly, the European Parliament has a Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has a Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination.

Parliamentarians can also support the application of gender mainstreaming in national departments and agencies. For instance, the Government of Canada promotes the use of an analytical tool, "Gender-based Analysis Plus", throughout its departments and agencies. Gender-based Analysis Plus evaluates the different impacts of legislation, policies and programmes on women, men and gender-diverse people. It also incorporates other identity factors into the analysis, such as age, disability, language, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion and income.

Lastly, parliamentarians can support the use of gender-responsive budgeting in order to mainstream a gender perspective in the budgetary process. A gender-based assessment of a national budget can examine and restructure revenues and expenditures, which can promote gender equality.

In 2018, the Government of Canada introduced the Canadian Gender Budgeting Act to outline the Government’s gender budgeting policy. I invite all my colleagues to scrutinise, using a gender lens, the national budget in your home countries during the approval of budgetary appropriations.

I look forward to engaging in conversations on how to further mainstream gender considerations in the work of our parliaments and our governments. We have so much to learn from one another. Thank you.

 

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

18:31:48

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Thank you. Is Mr JALLOW here from Sweden? No? The next speaker is Ms GÜNAY.

Ms Emine Nur GÜNAY

Turkey, NR 

18:32:02

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Dear President, dear colleagues,

I am very glad that this topic of utmost importance is being attentively discussed in this pan-European platform. I strongly believe that this debate will pave the way for an enhanced awareness regarding prevention of gender-based discrimination and gender inequality.

However, I do prefer using the term "gender justice" instead of "gender equality" as has been mentioned in UNDP’s agenda for sustainable development regarding peace in the scope of rule of law, justice, security and human rights. Inequality is absolutely required before the law, while the justice necessary for preventing women to perform the roles of men in addition to their roles as women.

In today’s world, women are at the forefront of social progress, assuming a leading role in driving social change and development. Therefore, even when they sometimes face cultural, economic and social obstacles, overcoming those obstacles becomes a motivating factor itself.

Violence against women is unacceptable in Turkey. We are committed to the zero-tolerance principle. Being the first country having ratified the Istanbul Convention, Turkey immediately adopted law number 6284 on the protection of family and prevention of violence against women. With the adoption of this law, Turkey successfully aligned its national legislation with the Istanbul Convention, which is considered as the golden standard.

In Turkey, in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, protective and preventive injunctions taken by the courts are immediately displayed on the screens of the Violence Prevention and Monitoring Centre - known as ŞÖNİM - without being subjected to posting process, and then the term of service are swiftly launched. Therefore, the effectiveness of process of reaching out after the victim, chasing and monitoring was increased.

The Women Emergency Assistance Notification System, which is called KADES, an app developed by the Turkish police, is the latest measure to protect women against violence. KADES, which can be installed on iOS or Android smartphones, enables women to alert the police with just one click.

Besides, in collaboration with the Ministry of National Defence, seminars are given on combating domestic violence and violence against women to those fulfilling their military service in Turkey.

The protocol on empowering women and strengthening institutional capacity in combating violence against women was signed on 22 January 2019 to promote the sustainability of cooperation between the Ministry of Family, Labour and Social Services and the Ministry of National Defence.

I want to express my thanks to the Rapporteur for enabling us to discuss this crucial issue. Thank you for listening.

Ms Dzhema GROZDANOVA

Bulgaria, EPP/CD, President of the Assembly 

18:35:15

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Thank you. The next speaker is Ms Gabriela BENAVIDES COBOS please.

Ms Gabriela BENAVIDES COBOS

Mexico 

18:35:23

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Thank you very much Madam President.

As a member of the Mexican delegation I would like to congratulate the rapporteurs, Ms Elvira KOVÁCS and Ms Zita GURMAI for the presentation of their drafts and their reports. Of course, the fight against discrimination against women is not a new fight. But in the current context there are new challenges. There are people that want to make us backtrack our previous achievements that we thought were guaranteed.

Even on this side on the Atlantic, I’m talking, in particular, about the instrumentalisation of certain judicial functions. Trying to divert the use of the Istanbul Convention. Trying to create a futile polemic around the concept of gender in order to generate confusion and rejection against a Convention that should actually be a model, allowing us to eradicate, through effective policies, violence against women. For that reason, the recommendations that support gender equality and gender parity are more necessary than ever before in order to fight against this legacy of prejudice that we’ve been haunted by for centuries now and in order to create societies that are more fair and more prosperous.

Onthe other side of the Atlantic, although there have been improvements in this area, we still have a lot of cases of discrimination in our countries. We need to continue to fight for every girl who has not had the opportunity to study, for every woman who has been denied a work opportunity. For all those women whose rights have been violated simply because they were women. And of course, we must never forget the most vulnerable women, migrant women, as was pointed out earlier by one of the speakers. We have to recognise that any form of violence against women is a direct and serious violation of human rights.

And for all of these reasons, we legislators have the responsibility, in our respective countries, for guaranteeing that men and women enjoy the same resources and the same participation in all public spheres. In Mexico we now have gender parity in the Congress. We are incredibly proud of that. And we are proud to tell you that this has been with the achievements and efforts of all the different political forces that are represented in the legislative federal institution. We have been able to create this equality.

So that is how in my country, Mexico, last month we unanimously approved a reform of various articles of our Magna Carta, the constitution, in order to guarantee parity participation of women and men in these areas and making sure they are appointed equally to public office, not only elected office. We also want to make sure that through constitutional measures in the near future, 50% of secretaries of state are women, and 50% of municipal leadership positions are also occupied by women. We also need to make sure that gender equality is guaranteed across the board in judicial and legislative bodies. This will allow us women to become involved in decision-making and to make a major step in the right directions towards the future.

Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

18:38:28

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Thank you.

I give the floor to Mr VASCONCELOS.

Mr Héctor VASCONCELOS

Mexico 

18:38:44

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Just in order to compare data, I would like to summarise the development of the participation of women in the political life of Mexico.

The right to vote was given to women in 1953, that is to say very late, if we compare the date in Mexico to the introduction of women's suffrage in the UK, which took place in 1918. That's simply an example. From 1953 to date, the presence of Mexican women in politics has developed very significantly. There have been nine women governors in as many states of the Mexican Federation and there is almost gender parity in the legislature, in other words, just as many men as women. Now, within the Morena party, well, our party is represented by 49 senators, of which 27 are women. The private office of the present President of the Republic is made up of nine men and nine women. So it's quite clear that women's participation in the political life of Mexico is considerably developed. And I'd like to inform you that in the weeks to come, a proposal for constitutional reform will be tabled. And the purpose of this particular reform is to introduce a new regime in the external action service of Mexico, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs according to which half of all council generals and ambassadors will be women.

All of the above tangibly indicates the will that we currently have and the direction that we are going with regard to the participation of women in the public life of the country. What we want to achieve is true gender parity in the political life of the nation. And we hope that this particular goal, which was set in Europe, will also be achieved in Europe.

Thank you.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

18:41:24

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Thank you.

I give the floor to Ms. VERDIER-JOUCLAS.

Ms Marie-Christine VERDIER-JOUCLAS

France, NR 

18:41:33

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Thank you, Madam President,

First of all, like my colleagues, I would like to thank you and congratulate Ms GURMAI on her report, which is so blatantly true.

Please note that France, which signed the Istanbul Convention on 11 May 2011, and authorised its ratification by the Act of 14 May 2014, has since then consistently encouraged states to ratify the Convention and invited non-member states of the Council of Europe to abide by it, with a view to universalizing the text, in order to ensure wider compliance with the strong provisions it contains, defining harassment, sexual harassment, sexual violence, physical and psychological violence against intimate partners, forced marriage and enforced sterilization.

I have heard what you said, Ms CREASY, and believe me, we are at your side and we will raise the awareness of our government to support you, because we must all be at the side of all those who need support in this fight.

In France, a woman dies every three days at the hands of of her partner.

France has been implementing - since the beginning of our mandate - the 5th plan to mobilize and combat all forms of violence against women. Covering the period 2017-2020, it includes 133 actions and mobilises 125 million euros over three years in various ministerial programmes.

This fifth plan deals with all forms of violence (domestic violence, sexual violence, forced marriages, female genital mutilation, prostitution) and aims to intensify efforts to consolidate the path out of violence for women victims.

It also aims to prevent violence by combating sexism and recidivism through the development of actions to prevent sexist behaviour and violence in all areas (school, public space, work), the improvement of knowledge of the phenomenon or the implementation of communication campaigns aimed at the general public.

In your report, you mention that some political leaders and parties, religious institutions and non-governmental organisations have waged an ideological war against the Istanbul Convention, arguing that it runs counter to traditional or family values, that it attempts to introduce a third gender or to legalise same-sex marriage.

In this regard, consideration should be given to directing financial contributions to the Istanbul Convention towards public and/or private bodies working to raise public awareness of violence against women.

In the face of this scourge of violence against women, our President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, has made it a major cause for the five-year period, along with equality between women and men.

Our Secretary of State, Ms Marlène SCHIAPPA, is active and committed every day.

We must all be united together in this fight.

We will not give up.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

18:44:44

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Thank you.

I give the floor to Ms. ALQAWASMI.

Ms Sahar ALQAWASMI

Palestine 

18:44:52

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Thanks Madam President.

First of all let me congratulate both Rapporteurs for these very important reports.

The motivators for the implementation of the 2030 agenda at all of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals are women, mainly young girls.

They are at the centre of the Sustainable Development Goals agenda and are it's motivators.

The benefit from this demographic window can can be achieved just by their full participation in the workforce.

Taking care of their health –mainly reproductive and sexual health– and rights can make that the indicator of SDG 3 achievable.

Appropriate positive representation of women at all decision-makers level as a half of society will influence differently on global challenges and stability, climate change, poverty etc.

We as parliamentarians are obliged to create a new positive environment for all women based on the elimination of all kinds of gender-based violence.

Gender-based violence is a reflection of discrimination. The Istanbul Convention is the framework which should be translated to national legislations' plans of action with unitary process.

I represent Palestine in the Board of coalition of female MPs from the Arab region.

We worked on a draft of the Arab convention against gender-based violence, which is very similar to the Istanbul convention with a special paragraph on women and their occupation and on conflict zones. We cooperate with the women committee at Arab League, and the Arab League is in the process of ratification.

Elimination of discrimination against women started from a commitment toward the Istanbul convention but also we need to change the classical stereotype toward women. With new legislation, laws can create a new culture.

Perception should be based on Human rights and equality. They can be achieved just by education through curricula and schools. The new generation must grow with a different environment.

The elimination of gender based violence is the key toward ending discrimination against women and women's rights is the way toward achieving human rights.

Thank you.

 

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

18:47:32

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Thank you.

 

The last speaker on the list: Mr KLEINWÄCHTER.

Mr Norbert KLEINWAECHTER

Germany, NR 

18:47:38

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Thank you very much, Madam President,

Thank you very much, rapporteurs,

Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen,

Yes, thank you very much, Mrs GURMAI, for the very important report on the Istanbul Convention. You put your finger in the wound and many speakers have already said that today.

I would, however, like to conclude by criticising Mrs KOVAC's report, entitled Towards an ambitious agenda for equality. But if we implement this content, which you outline here, then it is a step towards abolishing equality. Then this is a step into injustice. Then this is a step into injustice; and above all it questions the premise that equal rights should also apply to men.

They refer to the alleged setback against women's rights and then quote two studies; one from a UN women's group that does not really concern the Council of Europe countries and then one from an EU gender committee that notes an alleged decline in six countries. That's enough for the big hammer they get out for extensive claims. They want gender main-streaming in all areas. They want guidelines for non-sexist language, newspeak sends its regards. They want to prohibit salary differences until 2030, i.e. intervene in the free market. They also want mandatory parity in the filling of positions in Parliament and in other offices. This means that you demand nothing other than the abolition of freedom of choice. The question of whether someone has a certain sexual part should then be more important than performance and competence.

In order for this to work, you also call on governments to cooperate better with journalists and use subsidies in a targeted way, and you want binding gender and sexual education.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As an upright democrat one has to say "no" and also say that we as the Council of Europe should stand up for independent media instead of journalism. We should refuse to interfere with education policy. We should stick to the free market, that is, of course, that prices are then fixed on the market; and we should say that there is no discrimination against anyone, not even men.

This discrimination, which they like to describe as positive, is not a positive experience when a man goes to an interview. There is an Equal opportunities fficer there, in Germany that already exists, and then it is said no, he cannot get the job; he is not a woman. Really on an equal footing, and leading gender scientists have once written this, the two sexes are only considered if the M or the W no longer plays a role. All men are equal before the law. That is the principle of the Rule of law and that is why a man and a woman must really have the same opportunities and the same rights. Whether it's in filling positions or in elections. If you continue to think what you have demanded here, you will eventually come out in the two-tier electoral system where men can still vote for men and women only women.

This is a world I can't imagine. What are you going to do with the various people? It is really high time that we again debated how democracy, the Rule of law and equality before the law can be strengthened and not jeopardised by such projects.

Thank you so much.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

18:50:54

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The general discussion is closed.

Before giving the floor to the Rapporteur for the Committee's reply, I remind you that the voting to elect of a Vice-President of the Assembly in respect of the Russian Federation is under way until the end of the meeting, and I invite those of you who have not yet voted to do so now.

Ms GURMAI, you have four minutes left.

You have the floor.

Ms Zita GURMAI

Hungary, SOC, Rapporteur 

18:51:25

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Thank you very much, dear colleagues.

It's absolutely great to have a great time and, I just checked, 27 countries spoke and so many amazing colleagues, more than 55.

So, for all those who did not know that our tiny Secretariat has prepared in all the languages what is the Council of Europe Convention on preventing, this is the truth. It's factual, as Stella my friend said, it's factual. Facts and figures. So, please believe your eyes and not try to be in a dream land and to sell nonsenses.

Of course, violence against women is a human rights violation and the manifestation is a deeply-rooted inequality between women and men. To tackle this cause, strong legislative and political measures are essential and political will, as some of you already said. As my friend Petra, on behalf of the others, said, in a way, domestic violence is a form of horror behind the front door that has a serious impact on women's lives.

And, of course, when we talk about the cost of the society, I just would like to make it clear the number that she also quoted, I'm talking about 1.5 trillion US dollars. This is the global gross domestic product, the cost of violence against women. This is the size of the economy of Canada and I'm very thankful to so many Canadians who also asked for the floor.

I can call all my fellow parliamentarians to help the raise awareness campaign, so I could ask the question: who did what? Because I think if you are a good team and we have an amazing President who showed leadership, and by the way, special thanks for the IPU President with Gabriela CUEVAS because we had that very clear report about sexism and the proper languages, but about harassment and violence against women in our national assemblies as well.

Then, I also would like to go through quickly – I tried to put a note on every one of you – of course, you need to collect data but it does not depend on me. I wish to get proper data to do a better analysis together. Of course, Europe needs to be free of violence and, of course, this is clear that Turkey has been a place where – now, I would just like to congratulate the new mayor whom I'm sure there's going to be a great supporter of this issue.

I already mentioned the awareness-raising campaign and I would like to make it clear for everyone in this room that I knew Jo Cox, and this is a shame on Britain if they are not going to ratify the Istanbul Convention as soon as possible. She died June 16, 2016, so I think it has to be a very clear signal and she is not alone. So many women die because we are not ready to save women's lives all around the globe. (APPLAUSE)

And, of course, I'm absolutely thankful that this is not a women's issue. This is an issue for the society, and I think it's absolutely gorgeous that so many men spoke and let us know that they believe in a society that mean women and men are absolutely equal.

Concerning Cyprus, I have been in Cyprus just some time ago - campaigning for the European election - but I think it's absolutely crucial what you said – and she mentioned the president of the parliament. I'm very thankful that some of you mentioned how important of the role of our president. You should clap hands for her because I think she absolutely deserves it.

And, of course, you talked about the violence against women that is a global phenomenon, safe from violence. There is a lot to say, but I just wanted to let you know we should prove that we could be united on an issue, stop violence against women, or I should go further: zero tolerance.

Thank you very much. (APPLAUSE)

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

18:55:50

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Thank you very much, Ms GURMAI.

I now give the floor to Ms KOVÁCS, who has six and a half minutes.

Ms Elvira KOVÁCS

Serbia, EPP/CD, Rapporteur 

18:56:00

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Thank you, Madam President. Dear colleagues.

First of all, thank you for a really rich debate. It is true that you in your interventions you mostly focused on the Istanbul Convention but I think Béatrice FRESKO-ROLFO explained how actually the two reports are interlinked.  Since my report was focusing on how we started from a plan to have really an ambitious agenda for gender equality. Of course, the main idea was to celebrate the 70th anniversary of this organisation and to look back on what we did and what is still in front of us. I think Jette CHRISTENSEN really greatly formulated.

Unfortunately, today, it is still a fight. And we are not working on what can be done more but at least to save what was done because of the backlash. And then in the great Committee, I am chairing in the past one and a half year, we agreed that we will focus on different topics and try to have measurable goals. But of course, it is not easy so that's the reason why, after all, you got concrete ideas but still not measurable goals. I was a little bit –I must say really openly– surprised this afternoon that we didn't open debate about quotas, but it's important that we actually focused on the Istanbul Convention and violence against women. We didn't focus a lot on economic empowerment of women and other topics, but it's really good that we had an opportunity to have a joint debate and I'm really happy that we did it together with Zita.

And since during my introductory speech I mostly focused on my report now I would like to focus on the Istanbul Convention a little bit. I must use the opportunity of the rapporteur to say that I'm also really proud that my country Serbia ratified it really early it was actually the eighth country and we were among the first ten. Of course, signing and ratifying is not enough but the implementation is extremely important and if I can use the opportunity in front of the whole plenary to say we just had a committee meeting in Belgrade, Serbia, three weeks ago and there I wanted to share with other colleagues what's the situation on the ground. As part of implementing the Istanbul Convention we actually changed a law and then adopted a special law against domestic violence and really a lot of things happened and changed in the last few years in Serbia. I hope that everyone can feel it but still I agree completely with honourable rapporteur that we as members of Parliament back at home have to work on a lot, explaining what's the problem and misunderstanding of the Convention and on the other side, to really help people and to explain to your neighbour or friend that if something is happening in the neighbourhood around them they have to tell it to someone, so go to the police and help the victims.

All in all, I would like really to use the opportunity to thank our great Secretary Giorgio LODDO, head of Secretariat, a great committee. It really was a tremendous job, everybody shared their experience, that's the reason why I was surprised here we didn't open the question of parity. Most of your comments were maximally positive and I hope you can support this report and these recommendations.

I don't have enough time to have a long answer to the last speaker in this debate, of course, I don't want to ignore him but I opened and I will close the speech with the necessity of positive discrimination. Believe me, if you start to raise from a lot of steps behind, you cannot be equal so that's the reason why quota and other positive measures focusing on women had to be introduced.

Of course, not to forget Mrs President, I would also really like to say a big thanks to you, focusing on this campaign on sexism because without you and the help of the Bureau, we wouldn't be here and this campaign couldn't be so successful.

Still there is a lot to do in front of us. I know that our committee and the Parliamentary Assembly will deal with reports on these topics, which we just had now in this huge report.

Thank you for this great debate.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

19:02:10

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Thank you very much, Ms KOVÁCS.

I give the floor to Mr TORNARE, Vice-President of the Committee.

You have three minutes.

Mr Manuel TORNARE

Switzerland, SOC 

19:02:20

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Yes, Madam President,

I will speak in the language of my compatriot, Rousseau, and I take the floor as First Vice-President, since Ms KOVÁCS is the rapporteur, she cannot be judge and jury.

First of all, before I make a statement, I would like to have three small Swiss verses on behalf of the Committee.

Firstly, to pay tribute to Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUET, our President who in my country, as I can attest, as others on all political sides can also attest, has fought hard for the cause of women throughout her political career, to advance - either in Geneva or in Bern - the cause of women, and I want to pay her tribute. I also admire his patience. Yesterday, she deployed a lot of patience to deal with a certain male machismo.

Second verse – if you don't mind – because we Swiss MPs are often accused of not signing the Istanbul Convention: it was done a few months ago and we worked hard, both left and right, to convince the government.

Thirdly, I would like to pay tribute to all my compatriots, women in Switzerland, who, on 14 June, – you may have read about this in your local newspapers – went on strike: there were about 500 000 demonstrators, from Zurich to Geneva, via Lugano or Basel. 500 000 demonstrators who called for more equal pay for men and women, who said that violence against women must stop, among other demands. It was a great success honoring the women's struggle, which moved us men a lot. The courage of these women was remarkable.

Now I am speaking as a representative of the Committee.

(FR) Madam President, once again, dear members of this committee, Ms KOVÁCS, President of the Committee,

Today's debate focuses on key themes of our committee on equality, non-discrimination, the promotion of gender equality and the fight against all forms of violence against women. It is a struggle that I am proud to carry forward on behalf of our entire Commission, of all the members of the Commission, and I note the large number of speakers, revealing the interest of our Assembly in these issues.

The 70th anniversary of the creation of the Council of Europe is an opportunity to renew our Organisation's commitment, as many have said, to equality and non-discrimination. Today we are debating more specifically equality between women and men. Despite the Council of Europe's successes in this field, of which the Istanbul Convention is an excellent example, much remains to be done. It must be said that inequalities between women and men are glaring in the public, political and economic spheres. Violence against women is rooted in these deep-seated gender inequalities in our society.

The themes of the two reports we are debating today are, therefore, closely linked. We will not be able to put an end to gender-based violence without strong policies in favour of equality in all areas and, as we said earlier: words are good, treaties are good, but actions are essential.

The Commission unanimously adopted this text at its meeting in Belgrade on 5 June. In the President's country, we fully support the two rapporteurs, Ms KOVÁCS and Ms GURMAI, whom I thank and welcome. I also welcome their work, their commitment, and thank you for bringing to this assembly, even, as we have seen, in Serbia, even beyond. And you too, in Hungary: I also greet our friend who has just been appointed Vice-President of the National Assembly of Hungary.

I call on the House to vote in favour of this text, which sets out the current state of play of what has been undertaken in recent years and gives us food for thought on what to do in the future.

Thank you very much.

Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER

Switzerland, SOC, President of the Assembly 

19:06:50

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Thank you.

I remind you, dear colleagues, that you still have a few minutes to participate in the election for the election of a Vice-President of the Assembly in respect of the Russian Federation.

We now proceed to consider the draft resolution on the Istanbul Convention on Violence against Women, Achievements and Challenges contained in document 14908, to which three amendments have been tabled.

I understand that the President of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendment No. 3, adopted unanimously by the Committee, be considered as adopted by the Assembly.

Is that the case, Madam President?

Is there any objection? There is no such thing.

Amendment 3 is therefore declared definitively adopted.

The other amendments are called in the order in which they apply to the text, and I remind you that the speaking time for each amendment is limited to 30 seconds.

We are taking amendment number 1 and Mrs CREASY has the floor to support it.

Vote: The Istanbul Convention on violence against women: achievements and challenges / Towards an ambitious Council of Europe agenda for gender equality

Ms Stella CREASY

United Kingdom, SOC 

19:08:06