For immediate release
- IC Change commend the Government for meeting its deadline on delivering a report on its progression towards the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, but believe more needs to be done to ensure the protection of women and girls from gender-based violence remains a priority.
- A letter written by IC Change, and signed by the CEOs of 29 key women’s organisations, laying out the expectations of the report to be delivered by the 1 November deadline, was sent to Home Secretary Amber Rudd in October.
- The deadline for the report was legally set after the passing of the Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (ratification of Convention) Act in April 2017 following tireless campaigning.
IC Change, the campaign organisation made up of survivors, women’s organisations and allies fighting for the ratification of the Istanbul Convention (IC), has expressed its gratitude to the Government for meeting the deadline on its report on progress towards seeing UK legislation brought in line with the gold standard in the protection of women and girls from gender-based violence.
However, it is concerned by the lack of progress that appears to have been made according to the report, and urges the Government to step up its legal commitment to seeing the IC fully ratified.
Becca Bunce, the co-director of IC Change, said: “We are pleased the Government has reported on time. However, ultimately the report falls short. Critical details are still missing. It is these details that have held up ratification of this life-saving law for women for over five years.
“We hope that the Government will be able to speak further to these issues during the oral statement and subsequent debate promised in Parliament. We do not want to hear the same recycled lines from the last two years. We want a clear picture of what is left for devolved governments to do, and a precise timetable for getting the final pieces in place.
“The last few weeks have shown the impact of ignoring the abuse of power – and the structures that allow these abuses to occur. We are pleased that there has been cross-party commitment to prioritising structural reform in Parliament to prevent further abuses of power and offer protection to those who have been abused. We also saw political parties come together last year to pass the IC Act which led to this report. Let’s make sure that keep working together to ensure that women can live free from violence and the fear of violence.”
This legislation is needed because, on average, two women in England and Wales are killed every week by a current or former male partner and at least one in five women has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16.
The UK Government signed a commitment to seeing it through five years ago.
Then-MP for Banff and Buchan Dr Eilidh Whiteford put forward a Private Members Bill, preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (ratification of Convention), in 2016. On 27 April 2017, it was passed into law and became an Act. The Act legally requires the government to produce an annual report on their progress in modifying existing UK legislation in order to ratify the Istanbul Convention. The deadline for the first report was on 1 November.
Dr Marsha Scott, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid Scotland, said:
“Every single time women speak out publicly about the violence and abuse they have experienced, furore follows. Commentators and columnists debate, put forward solutions and despair: ‘we have to DO something.’
“Well yes, we do. And though many of us might feel helpless in the face of such enormous wrongs, right now the UK Government has an opportunity to do something that would make a difference.
“Critically, they have the potential to change the lives of women and children experiencing violence and abuse. If recent weeks have taught us anything, it is that it is no good simply talking the talk; the UK Government must see ratification of the Istanbul Convention through to the very end if they are to prove that they are serious about ending violence against women.”
In order to keep up the pressure and ensure this remains a priority for the government you can sign the petition.
Notes for Editors
- The Istanbul Convention – (or full name: Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence) – is the most comprehensive legal framework that exists to tackle violence against women and girls.
- Statistic reference: Office for National Statistics (2015), ‘Violent Crime and Sexual Offences – Intimate Personal Violence and Serious Sexual Assault’, Focus on Violent Crime and Sexual Offences, 2013/14, Chapter 4.
- The IC Change campaign is a grassroots, volunteer led campaign for securing ratification of the Istanbul Convention.