The head of Council of Europe’s (CoE) division ‘gender equality and violence against women’,Liri Kopaci-Di Michele, expressed today before New Europe hope that the European Union (EU) will sign and ratify the CoE’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
The convention was adopted by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers on 7 April 2011 and was opened for signature in May the same year on the occasion of the 121st Session of the Committee of Ministers in Istanbul. The document enters into force following 10 ratifications. So far, there are 22 signatures and the document was ratified only once, by Turkey.
According to Di Michele, if the EU signs and ratifies the convention, this would send a strong political message to all of its member states. She also said that the Council of Europe was looking forward to seeing the result of the on-going study carried out by the European Commission and examining the possibilities on signing and ratifying the convention.
Moreover, Di Michele explained that the CoE has done its job by providing a legally binding comprehensive instrument in terms of provisions to prevent and prosecute violence, as well as protect women from domestic violence. She also said that in this particular area, the CoE had advantage over the EU because of the existence of a legally binding instrument, but also recognized the efforts done by the EC to put forward a directive which was making a reference to the Istanbul convention.
Talking about the main challenges before eradicating domestic violence in Europe, the CoE representative named three areas: raising awareness in terms of encouraging continuous discussion on the issue and bringing education in line with international standards; assuring effective protection and budget cuts.
In relation to the on-going financial crisis, Di Michele talked about the negative impact it had on policies related to eradicating domestic violence. In particular, she explained that most of the resources cut in national budgets were exactly those providing important services to victimized women.
The head of CoE gender equality division concluded by saying that doing nothing about prevention of violence cost governments more than their active engagement with the issue.
Even though, according to 2010 Eurobarometer study 87% of the respondents supported further EU commitment in the area of domestic violence, up until now, the EU has no binding legislation in place to deal with this issue. The three basic instruments of the EC with reference to the topic of domestic violence include the action plan implementing the Stockholm programme, the Women’s Charter and the strategy for equality between men and women (2010-2015).