Speech by Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni
Deputy Secretary General
High-Level Roundtable on the "Elimination and Prevention of all forms of Violence against Women and Girls"
Commission on the Status of Women
57th Session – New York, 4 March 2013
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We are here today because millions of women across the world suffer from violence and are obliged to live in fear. Just because they are women.
Violence against women is a violation of human rights and a form of discrimination against women.
The sheer scale of this serious affront to human dignity is just being uncovered.
Most incidents of violence against women never make it into the headlines.
For too long, the history of abuse against women has been a history of silence.
It is therefore our duty, here at this conference, to provide a voice to the women of the world whose ordeals have gone unnoticed, to those who have suffered in silence.
The Council of Europe felt the need for further legally-binding obligations entirely dedicated to prevent and combat violence against women.
The Convention offers a legal framework to prevent violence against women, to protect its victims and to prosecute the perpetrators.
The Convention covers victims from all backgrounds, regardless of their age, race, religion, social origin, migrant status or sexual orientation.
The Istanbul Convention gives us hope.
It contains a number of ground-breaking provisions, including legally-binding definitions of violence against women and domestic violence.
It introduces a set of new offences, such as physical and psychological violence.
Such as stalking, sexual harassment and sexual violence.
Such as forced marriage, female genital mutilation and force abortion.
Above all, the Convention recognises the reality of abuse against women.
Rape, and other forms of violence, is not limited to dodgy back alleys in the dark of night.
In many cases, rape happens at home and is repeated over time.
We must also use the Istanbul Convention to address the root causes of violence against women and domestic violence.
The Convention is firmly rooted in the larger context of achieving greater equality between women and men.
It aims at improving the responsiveness of the criminal justice system and the individuals that serve it.
By ratifying the Convention, the message countries will send is crystal clear: there can be no impunity for perpetrators of such violence.
Laws are very important, but they are not enough on their own.
That is why the Istanbul Convention is also meant as a tool to change attitudes.
We need to promote a change of mind-set in society, through education and media, so as to ensure that violence against women is understood for what it is: a violation of human rights.
The Istanbul Convention is now widely recognised as the most comprehensive and far reaching text in its field.
Its scope and potential is immense. It is a treaty made in Europe but not meant for Europe only.
It is open to accession by non-European States and is already inspiring the legislations and policies of countries across the globe, also thanks to co-operation with UN Women. This is one of the strongest added values of our Convention: its potential to become the universal framework for efficient and determined action to eliminate violence against women and domestic violence!
Let there be no doubt, we have come a long way. But we still have a lot of hard work ahead of us.
Combatting violence against women is not just a moral or legal issue.
It is also an economic issue. A security issue.
So let us push ahead with the ratification of the Istanbul Convention.
The victims of violence have already waited too long.