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No excuse should obstruct the ratification and implementation of the Istanbul Convention

International Women's Day
Strasbourg 07/03/2018
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In a message to mark International Women’s Day 2018, the Commissioner underlines that politicians and opinion makers should promote an honest and well-informed public debate about the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention).

“Combating violence against women and domestic violence must be a priority for us all. The Istanbul Convention is a modern and unique tool designed to protect women’s rights and no excuse should obstruct its ratification and implementation”, he says.

Read the full video message:

"Violence against women, in all its forms, constitutes a violation of human rights and requires concrete measures from states to respond to it. The Istanbul Convention, a landmark treaty, is there to help national authorities to prevent violence against women, protect the victims and prosecute the perpetrators.

It is encouraging to see that 28 member states of the Council of Europe have already ratified the Convention. Yet, much remains to be done, both in term of full implementation and of awareness-raising.

I am particularly worried by several misconceptions about the Convention that some critics, including politicians, have propagated in public debates in some member states to oppose its ratification.

Some pretend that the use of the word “gender” in the Convention has hidden purposes and effects. This is simply not true.

In the Convention, this term is used to define the phenomenon of “gender-based” violence against women, that is violence directed against them because they are women or that affects women disproportionately.

The word “gender” in the Convention also serves to make the point that “gender stereotypes and roles” about women and men need to be tackled because they play a part in the perpetuation of violence against women.

To prevent violence against women, the Istanbul Convention requires measures to overcome prejudice against women and stereotyped gender roles, in full line with international human rights obligations.

Any other consideration about the word “gender” in relation to this Convention is uninformed at best, and manipulative at worst.

Politicians and opinion makers have the duty to promote an honest and well-informed public debate about the Convention and focus on its potential to help states increase women’s safety and liberty.

Combating violence against women and domestic violence must be a priority for us all. The Istanbul Convention is a modern and unique tool designed to protect women’s rights.

No excuse should obstruct its ratification and implementation."