The Istanbul Convention entered into force on 1 August 2014. This is an important milestone in the history of the Women’s Movement and much remains to be done to improve the situation of women survivors of violence and their children.
On the 1st of August 2014, the Istanbul Convention has come into force. A crucial day in the history of the Women’s Movement. The Istanbul Convention is the first ever truly comprehensive instrument at the European level which addresses violence against women. As of beginning of July 2014, 13 countries have already ratified the Convention, and 23 have signed it. The Convention’s coming into force is an important step, and strong implementation and commitment of member states is needed to effectively work towards preventing and combating violence against women and their children.
Important themes of the Convention include Prevention, Protection, Prosecution, Substantive law and Monitoring. Prevention of violence against women and domestic violence is essential to save multiple lives and lower human suffering. The Convention sets requirements for governments for preventative work to function, including training of professionals who are in contact with victims, working closely with NGOs, involving the media and private sector in eradicating gender stereotypes and other points. Along with the state, it is also important that each individual challenges gender stereotypes, harmful traditional practices and discrimination against women.
Protection – The Convention strives to provide victims and witnesses with protection and support, including police intervention and protection through support services such as specialist service provision including women’s shelters, telephone helplines, etc. In order to incorporate protection into a women’s life, it is significant to ensure that victims have access to adequate information on available services. In addition, it involves having well distributed women’s shelters and 24/7 telephone helplines free of charge.
Substantive law – With regards to substantive law, the Convention tries to push state parties to introduce a number of new offenses which have not existed before such as psychological and physical violence, sexual violence and rape, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, forced abortion and forced sterilization.
Monitoring – Lastly it is essential to make sure that state parties live up to their obligation, meaning that once the Convention will come into force, a group of independent experts called GREVIO will measure the extent to which state parties have implemented the Convention.
Prosecution – The Convention does not stop at the identification of the different forms of violence against women, but it also requires state parties to integrate these new offenses into their national legislation, and ensure the effective investigation of any allegation of violence against women, and domestic violence. The prosecution and punishment of perpetrators is essential for survivors to achieve justice, and resume lives free from violence.
In order to support the implementation of the Istanbul Convention, at the onset of 16 days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence 2013 Campaign, WAVE launched the ‘ISIGN’ campaign, part of the Autonomous Women’s Center (Serbia)-led project ‘Coordinated Efforts – Toward New European Standards in Protection of Women from Gender Based Violence’. The campaign has been simultaneously carried out together with three Focal Points from two Western Balkan States (Macedonia and Serbia) and Slovenia, one organization from Bosnia and Herzegovina, one organization from Croatia, and with the European Women’s Lobby (EWL). The main goal of this project is the realization of democracy, Human rights, social inclusion and thus harmonization with the values promoted by the European Union regarding preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. The project strives to promote the ratification by other countries of the Convention, and to observe how countries’ legislation match the obligations of the Convention, which are then reviewed. The website of the campaign is available at: http://www.podpisem.org/. The campaign is also active on Facebook at I Sign Campaign, and Twitter @ISignCampaign.
For more information on the Istanbul Convention, go to the Council of Europe website.