The Istanbul Convention – let’s get it ratified and eliminate violence against women and girls!

As part of our 16 Days of Activism series, Meg explains why the Istanbul Convention is crucial for ending violence against women & girls and calls on governments worldwide to ratify it, and make sure it's implemented.

The levels of violence against women and girls worldwide is terrifying. In 1993, the UN provided a framework to tackle this pandemic, yet more than 20 years later women are still experiencing varying forms of violence because of their gender. 1 in 3 women experience abuse by an intimate partner, sexual violence and harassment in public spheres are common, and at least.200 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation. These statistics and more are shocking and disheartening. We need governments to make real tangible steps towards eliminating this type of violence for good and we, the public, need to a standard to hold our government’s accountable to. 

That’s why I support the Istanbul Convention. 

The Istanbul Convention is the most comprehensive legal framework that currently or has ever existed to tackle violence against women and girls. It sets the minimum standards for a State’s response to violence against women under four key pillars: prevention, protection, prosecution and monitoring, through an integrated policy approach 

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Drafted by experts and based on national reports, studies and surveys across Europe, the Istanbul Convention reflects a comprehensive, pragmatic approach to tackling gendered violence, placing women’s voices and their diverse needs at its core. It recognises that violence against women encompasses a range of behaviours. This can include stalking, sexual harassment, sexual violence and rape, physical, sexual and psychological abuse, forced marriage, ‘honour’-based violence, forced sterilisation, and female genital mutilation (FGM). 

The Convention opened in 2011, and since then 43 countries have signed it. However, unless they ratify it into their law, they are not legally bound by its provisions. Ratification would mean that women and girls in that country are legally guaranteed the right to live lives free from violence and the fear of violence. 

The UK signed the Convention in 2012 but is still yet to ratify it. This is despite the government describing violence against women and girls as ‘a priority’. The facts speak for themselves though. As austerity-led cuts have been made to domestic-violence services, violence against women has seen a growth. Every week in England and Wales, 2 women die from domestic violence. That’s over 200 women who have died from domestic abuse since the UK signed the Convention. The delay in ratification is simply unacceptable. 

I have since joined a campaign a volunteer-led campaign called IC Change in the UK that aims to have the Convention ratified. We are asking our Members of Parliament across the country to attend a Private Member’s Bill on the 16th December to kick-start the progress again and ensure this Convention is enshrined in UK law. If you’re British, make sure you get involved here

But violence against women and girls is a worldwide issue. We have a responsibility to do more. That’s why I implore you to find out more about the Istanbul Convention, if your country has signed it or not, if it has been ratified, and are your politicians sticking to it. 

Together we can eliminate this type of violence. So please, don’t let down our girls.