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#EndVAWinEurope: MEPs call on EU to ratify Council of Europe Convention on violence against women

[Brussels, 20 November 2012] Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) gathered in Strasbourg to express their support to the EP written declaration calling on the EU to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on violence against women.

Initiated by five MEPs from the five main political groups in the EP, the written declaration was launched on Tuesday 20 November, in the presence of guests from the Council of Europe and the European Women’s Lobby. MEPs showed their commitment to end violence against women, and expressed their support to the declaration of their colleagues Mikael Gustafsson (GUE/NGL), Barbara Matera (EPP), Antonyia Parvanova (ALDE), Raül Romeva (Greens) and Britta Thomsen (S&D). See their statements below.

The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) strongly welcomes and supports this initiative, and will do its best to help MEPs gather the 377 signatures needed for the written declaration to enter into force. The EWL proposes to all supporters to use the Twitter hash tag #EndVAWinEurope to bring attention to the issue and ensure the success of the written declaration. To this day, 24 member states of the Council of Europe have signed the Convention, 16 of them being EU Member States; only Turkey has ratified it.

Johanna Nelles, Director of the Violence against women and domestic violence unit at the Council of Europe, presented five reasons why the EU should ratify the Convention:

  • The EU should use the existing framework of measures to combat violence against women; the Council of Europe Convention is a comprehensive instrument comprising good standards.
  • The political support for such ratification is here, it needs to transform into action. The written declaration is a very good tool to give visibility to this political support.
  • The EU has a legal base to ratify the Convention, as it has already ratified 11 Council of Europe instruments, as well as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  • The EP has been flagging violence against women as an area needing policy framework; recent EP resolutions were calling for measures that are included in the Convention.
  • Finally, the EU, by ratifying the Convention, would send a strong political message to step up efforts to end violence against women, and would comfort its leading role on this area.

Mikael Gustafsson, MEP (GUE/NGL): “Violence against women is a serious problem all over Europe. We are calling for both an EU directive and the EU ratification of the Council of Europe Convention. This dualistic approach is the most effective way to fight men’s violence against women at EU level.”

Barbara Matera, MEP (EPP): “This ratification is a starting point for further discussion and work at EU level. I commit to work hard to show the importance of this declaration”.

Britta Thomsen, MEP (S&D): “Seven women die every day from domestic violence. We need the EU to act now. We cannot wait; we need the written declaration to be adopted far before February. I call on my colleagues to join and support.”

Antonyia Parvanova, MEP (ALDE): “I strongly believe that all our efforts to close the gender pay gap, balance professional and family life, implement quota, etc., won’t be successful if we don’t solve the issue of violence against women. The strong commitment from this house should inspire national parliaments and governments.”

Teresa Jimenez-Becerril, MEP (EPP): “Violence against women is unacceptable. Too many women die from violence in Europe and in my country, Spain”.

Minodora Cliveti, MEP (S&D): “Ending violence against women is a European issue: the EU Treaty protects human rights, and violence against women is a violation of women’s human rights.”

Zita Gurmai, MEP (S&D): “It is high time to deal with violence against women. The ratification of the Council of Europe Convention by the EU is the missing link to make an EU legislation happen. Celebrating 25 November as International Day to End Violence against Women shouldn’t make us forget about the 364 other days when women suffer from male violence.”

MEPs Antogoni Papadopoulou (S&D) was also present to show her support.

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