The area of specialist victim support for women survivors of violence and their children is expected to experience improvement, if CoE member states commit themselves to effectively implement the Istanbul Convention – the CoE Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence is based on the understanding that violence against women is a form of gender-based violence that is committed against women because they are women. It is the obligation of the state to fully address it in all its forms and to take measures to prevent violence against women, protect its victims and prosecute the perpetrators. To date, 14 member states of the Council of Europe have ratified this new human rights treaty and another 22 states have signed it. The convention is open for accession by states which are not Council of Europe members.
The work of the Women against Violence Europe Network (WAVE) in promoting the establishment and improvement of women’s services is long-standing, and calls upon European countries to sign and ratify the Istanbul Convention. On an annual basis, with support from co-funding by the European Commission, WAVE publishes the Country Report, providing information on the current situation of available specialist services across 46 European Countries. Findings of the WAVE Country Report 2013 indicate an existing gap of approximately 55,242 shelter places in the 46 countries, while also showing that not every country in Europe has yet established a 24/7, free of charge, national women’s helpline. In consequence, WAVE recommends improving and extending services for women survivors of violence, and importantly, women’s shelters. Moreover, report findings show that, while women’s helplines exist in 31 out 46 European countries, only 17 of them operate 24/7 and are free of charge, resulting in only 37% of covered countries meeting the relevant Council of Europe Taskforce Recommendation. More importantly, there is currently no women’s shelters in Hungary, Latvia and Lithuania. This is why WAVE calls upon the European countries to invest more funding into shelters, and to ensure that national women’s helplines operate 24/7, and free of charge. In fact, the expectation of WAVE is that every day a new women’s shelter should be created.
WAVE calls upon European countries to sign and ratify the Istanbul Convention, and welcomes the progresses made to date. It also recognizes that significant efforts and commitments by states are still needed to effectively contribute to preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. WAVE hopes that, by working cooperatively with governments and the civil society, all forms and types of violence against women can one day be history.
For more information about WAVE activities and publications, and subscribe to the WAVE Newsletter, go to the WAVE website – www.wave-network.org
Read also: #EndVAW: Istanbul Convention into force and find more information about the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention).