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EU and the Istanbul Convention

After 6 years delay EU should ratify convention to protect women

The European Union should ratify the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women, in line with a 2021 Court of Justice opinion, the European Parliament has decided. Six years after the EU signed the Convention, it has still not ratified it because of the refusal of a few member states. 

The EU Court of Justice already on 6 October 2021 stated that the European Union can ratify the Istanbul Convention without having the agreement of all member states. 

The text, adopted by the parliament with 469 in favour, 104 against and 55 abstentions, says the Istanbul Convention remains the international standard and a key tool in eradicating gender-based violence, including domestic violence. 

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MEPs condemned attempts in some member states to revoke measures already taken in applying the Istanbul Convention and call on them to implement it fully.

“MEPs condemn the backlash against gender equality, women’s rights and the Istanbul Convention in some member states – for example in Poland, where the government is looking to withdraw from the Convention and has introduced a de facto ban on abortion. They demand national authorities fight against disinformation about the Convention”, the Parliament says.

The EU’s accession to the Istanbul Convention does not exempt member states from ratifying it themselves, say MEPs, who urge the remaining six countries – Bulgaria, Czechia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia – to ratify the Convention without delay.

“Criminal justice should only be one part of a comprehensive response to gender-based violence. The EU’s response should also encompass prevention, protection, and prosecution”, the Parliament says. 

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“Member states should ensure gender-sensitive training, procedures and guidelines, as well as specialist support and protection measures with a victim-centred approach for all professionals involved, including law enforcement agencies, the judiciary and public prosecutors.”

Earlier studies show that one in three women in the EU, around 62 million women, has experienced physical and/or sexual violence and more than half of women (55%) in the EU have experienced sexual harassment at least once since the age of 15.


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