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Ladies and Gentlemen,
Millions of women across the world suffer from violence and are obliged to live in fear just because they are women.
The Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence makes it an obligation of the state to fully address gender-based violence in all its forms and to take measures to prevent violence against women, protect its victims and prosecute the perpetrators.
To date five Council of Europe member states have committed to this responsibility by ratifying the Convention - Albania, Italy, Montenegro, Portugal and Turkey - whereas 26 states have signed but not yet ratified.
We need five more ratifications for the Convention to enter into force.
I have received encouraging news from Austria and Bosnia and Herzegovina where Parliaments have ratified the Convention, and I expect the ratification instruments to be deposited with the Council of Europe shortly.
Other countries are also working actively towards ratification. The French Minister of Women's Rights has expressed her assurance that the adoption of the ratification law is imminent, and the Serbian and the Spanish Parliaments have started their respective ratification procedures. Also Andorra, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Netherlands and Sweden have ensured us that ratification is forthcoming.
I am therefore very hopeful that we will have the five more ratifications needed for the Convention to enter into force early next year.
The Istanbul Convention calls for integrated strategies with a strong focus on prevention. Preventing violence against women and domestic violence can save lives and reduce human suffering.
Violence against women is deeply rooted in the inequality between women and men and it is perpetuated by a culture of tolerance and denial. Preventive measures and working with perpetrators of violence should be put in a wider context and be considered as part of efforts to change mentalities and attitudes, abolish gender hierarchies and discrimination and strive for greater equality between women and men.
Article 16 of the Istanbul Convention lays down the obligation for the authorities to support preventive interventions with perpetrators and treatment programmes designed to help perpetrators change their attitudes and behaviour in order not to re-offend.
Article 16 addresses two separate types of programmes:
• those targeting domestic violence perpetrators; and
• others designed for sex offenders
The monitoring under CM Recommendation (2002) 5 on the protection of women against violence, indicates that 36 member states have designed programmes for men perpetrators of violence against an intimate partner, whereas 29 have designed programmes for men perpetrators of sexual violence.
The Istanbul Convention highlights the importance of basing the programmes on best practice and research about the most effective ways of working with perpetrators.
Programmes should encourage perpetrators to take responsibility for their actions and examine their attitudes and beliefs towards women. This type of intervention requires skilled and trained facilitators. Beyond training in psychology and the nature of domestic violence, they need to possess the necessary cultural and linguistic skills to enable them to work with a wide diversity of men.
Moreover, it is essential that these programmes are not set up in isolation but are closely co-ordinated with women's support services, law enforcement agencies, the judiciary, probation services and child welfare offices. Participation in these programmes may be court-ordered or voluntary, and priority must be given to the needs and safety of victims.
Regarding programmes for perpetrators of sexual assault and rape, they are specifically designed to treat convicted sex offenders in and outside prison with a view to minimise recidivism and successfully reintegrate perpetrators into the community.
In both cases, men must be closely associated in the design and implementation of programmes. Men are not only part of the problem. They must also be recognised as part of the solution.
A study is currently being prepared by the University of Bristol to assist member states to put in place preventive measures under the Convention. This study will provide guidance on how to implement the obligations, information on state-of-the-art research and resources, as well as examples of good practices.
I look forward to the exchanges during this hearing, which I am confident will bring inspiration and motivation for our ultimate goal – the protection of women from violence!
Thank you for your attention.