[Brussels, 08 April 2011] The EWL is delighted to announce the success of its lobbying campaign ’Towards a Strong Convention on All Forms of Male Violence against Women’ with the adoption of the Convention on 07 April.
After almost two years of negotiation, the Ministers’ Deputies adopted the Council of Europe (CoE) Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence on Thursday 7 April 2011. The Convention was finalised by the CAHVIO committee in January, together with the explanatory memorandum. On 11 March, the Parliamentary Assembly of the CoE (PACE) welcomed the draft of the Convention. The PACE was also calling for better protection for vulnerable groups, stronger sanctions against violence and less scope for reservations.
In the meantime, in February and March, many NGOs were worried that the Committee of Ministers would want to reopen the discussion around the Convention, as some countries were attacking the content and wanted to lower down the provisions (including the UK denying violence against women as a human rights issue, calling for lower standards of protection, or Russia excluding the mention os same-sex couples, or Italy wanting to withdraw provisions on protection for migrant women, etc.). Other countries were strongly supporting the adoption of the draft Convention. Amnesty International and other NGOs, including the EWL, led a strong campaign to call on member states to adopt the text as such. In the end, this campaign was successful, and the treaty will be opened for signature at the Ministerial Session of the Committee of Ministers in Istanbul on 11 May.
The adopted texts are available on the CAHVIO website: http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/standardsetting/violence/default_EN.asp.
The EWL recommendations
The EWL called for the Convention to be:
- a human rights instrument
- with an independent monitoring mechanism
- focusing on violence against women (including domestic violence) as a cause and consequence of gender inequality,
- covering all forms of male violence against women,
- and providing for protection and services.
The first European binding instrument specifically devoted to violence against women
The Convention is the first European binding instrument specifically devoted to violence against women and an important step forward for equality. But it is still controversial, with some countries already saying that they will not ratify it (such as Bulgaria and Russia) and we can expect some lobbying against the Convention (for example from religious organisations disagreeing with the definition of ‘gender’ as ‘socially constructed roles for women and men’). But the EU has the opportunity to ratify it, and this would lead to the provisions on which the EU has competence to become EU law. On the positive side, Norway, Germany, Spain, Slovakia said they would proceed to sign quickly. NGOs now need to mobilise their members to put pressure on all countries to ratify the convention, and ask the EU to do likewise.