The Malta Independent 21 May 2024, Tuesday
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Malta to ratify domestic violence convention in November

Malta Independent Tuesday, 5 August 2014, 09:00 Last update: about 11 years ago

The Council of Europe is taking new steps to combat violence against women under a newly ratified convention that came into force on Friday.

Fourteen European states are committing themselves to better fight violence against women following the signature of the so-called Istanbul Convention.

The convention came into force on Friday in 11 member states (Turkey, Albania, Italy, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Austria, Andorra, Spain, and Denmark) and will be joined by France, Sweden and Malta in November.

“Violence against women remains one of the most widespread human rights violations which take place every day in Europe,” said Nils Muiznieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, in a statement published this week.

The convention obliges participating governments to take measures to counter domestic violence, forced marriage, stalking and sexual violence.

At least 12 women are killed by gender-related violence in Europe every day, according to the Council of Europe. In 2013, domestic violence claimed the lives of 121 women in France, 134 in Italy and 143 in the United Kingdom, according to national statistics.

The convention also targets female genital mutilation, forced abortion and forced sterilization, sexual harassment, and crimes committed in the name of “honour”.

Signatories must “ensure that victims have access to services facilitating their recovery from violence” including “services such as legal and psychological counselling, financial assistance, housing, education, training and assistance in finding employment”, according to the convention. They must also “provide for the setting-up of appropriate, easily accessible shelters in sufficient numbers to provide safe accommodation for and to reach out pro-actively to victims, especially women and their children”.

Independent experts will monitor governments’ compliance with the convention.

Another 22 nations in the 47-member Council of Europe – the continent’s leading human rights body – have signed the convention but not yet ratified. Eleven have so far ignored it, including Russia.

President of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), Anne Brasseur, said: “The Istanbul Convention enshrines the most advanced and comprehensive set of standards at international level to tackle violence against women and domestic violence. Although it focuses primarily on women, it would be simplistic to consider it a convention on women’s rights. It will benefit society as a whole: the women and girls who are subjected to violence because of their gender; the women, men and children who are victims or witnesses of domestic violence; the perpetrators who want to be rehabilitated; men, who are not only part of the problem but also part of the solution; and today’s boys and girls whom we want to grow up believing in the full equality and dignity of human beings.

“Upon its entry into force, this Convention will become a cornerstone in the system of human rights protection, as freedom from violence is the most basic human right, without which all the others are nullified.”

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