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Ahead of Istanbul Convention 10th anniversary, women CSOs sound the alarm on women’s rights rollback in Europe

Condemning Turkey’s recent decision and Poland’s announced intention to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, in a new report the European Women’s Lobby calls attention to the Treaty’s crucial role in protecting women and girls from male violence. Simply put: the Istanbul Convention saves women’s lives.

[Brussels, 14 April 2021] To mark the upcoming 10th anniversary of the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, the European women’s Lobby (EWL) has launched a new report called Towards a Europe Free from Male Violence Against Women and Girls”.

This report was developed with expert analysis from the EWL Observatory on Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and looks into the state of play of the implementation and impact of the Istanbul Convention within the context of an alarming surge of male violence against women and girls due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The analysis details the achievements made to date across the 23 countries that have ratified the treaty, underlining the Convention’s key role in fostering positive changes across the prevention, prosecution and protection measures to combat violence against women and girls.

Among the main findings:

  • In 14 out of the 23 countries analysed (61%), efforts to prevent violence against women and girls and domestic violence have intensified;
  • in 15 out of 23 countries analysed (65%), improvements in investigations and prosecution are already visible;
  • 19 out of 23 countries examined (83%) have improved protection services for women victims of violence and victims of domestic violence.

However, the report also shines a light on the deep and persisting inequalities that impede progress on eliminating male violence against women and girls, sounding the alarm on the current growing political backlash against the Istanbul Convention witnessed in some European countries and the political block preventing EU accession to the treaty.

The analysis also underscores the grave concerns and condemnation expressed by EWL (1) on the occasion of President Erdoğan’s decision to withdraw Turkey from the Convention, and Poland’s recently announced intention to do likewise, setting out recommendations for urgent collective address of these barriers.

“Our report couldn’t be more timely. With the increased risk of violence brought by the COVID-19 crisis and the current intention of some countries to undermine the key role of the Istanbul Convention, women and girls in Europe are facing greater threats to their safety. Despite the important gains made so far, collective action is still urgently needed in Europe to promote the ratification and implementation of the Convention, which remains the most comprehensive legislative instrument to date aimed at preventing and protecting women and girls from violence. Opposition to the Convention is opposition to EU fundamental values (2), including women’s human rights, and our right to live our lives free from violence" - said Joanna Maycock, Secretary General of EWL.

“This report shows that concerted action to prevent violence against women and girls and protect them from domestic violence does work, and that the Istanbul Convention has played and will continue to play a fundamental role in setting national realities on the right path. We invite political figures to join the voices of women and girls across Europe: loud and united in calling for strong action to counter dangerous misogynist tendencies and promote the values of equality and democracy” said Laura Albu, Vice President of EWL and Observatory on VAWG.

Notes for the editor:
(1) The EWL has sent a letter to the EU HRVP Josep Borrell and the Portuguese Presidency of the Council:
(2) As per Article 2 TEU, Article 8 TFEU (‘gender mainstreaming’ clause) and in the EU Charter for Fundamental Rights under Article 23.

Adriana Paradiso, Communications & Media Coordinator EWL
+32 465576876

Read the report now!

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EWL event "Progress towards a Europe free from all forms of male violence" to mark the 10th aniversary of the Istanbul Convention, 12 May 2021.

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