The Council of Europe´s Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) has published its annual report of activities, highlighting the key milestones and accomplishments of the Group of Experts in 2022. These include: the publication of nine baseline evaluation reports (in respect of Romania, Germany, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Switzerland, Estonia, Georgia, Cyprus and Norway), which is the highest the number of reports published per year so far; the ratification of the Istanbul Convention by three new state parties (the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and the United Kingdom), representing the highest number of ratifications per year since 2018.
It also includes the adoption by GREVIO of a new evaluation questionnaire, entitled “Building trust by delivering support, protection and justice”, which defines the scope of the first thematic monitoring round, launched in 2023; and the fruitful co-operation between GREVIO and the Committee of the Parties, which led to the adoption of the Dublin Declaration on the Prevention of Domestic Violence, Sexual and Gender-based Violence, signed by 38 Ministers and directly inspired by the prevention pillar of the convention.
The 4th General Report on GREVIO´s activities features an extremely timely “Focus section” addressing sexual violence, including rape, which represents one of the most under-reported forms of violence against women, characterised by high attrition rates at the investigation and prosecution stages and few convictions, which lead to a culture of impunity. The Focus section shows the evolution of legislation, policies and support services in his area across states parties, and how the convention and GREVIO’s monitoring activity are contributing to these positive changes.
Drawing on GREVIO’s observations and monitoring work, the report points to the “only yes is yes” approach as the one which is best aligned with the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (the “Istanbul Convention”). Legal approaches that require proof that the sexual act was committed against the will of a person, result in placing undue attention on the behaviour of the victim and whether she expressed her opposition verbally or otherwise, hence not covering, for example, cases when the victim remains passive.