Press release: Government report on violence against women published today falls short

PRESS RELEASE

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.

For more information visit http://icchange.co.uk/pmb/ or email info@icchange.co.uk

 

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.

 

Correspondence with the Home Office

On Wednesday 18 October, we sent a letter to the Home Secretary to keep up the pressure for ratification. We did this ahead of the 1 November deadline they have to report by thanks to the Istanbul Convention Act we helped pass in April.

The letter, signed by the CEOs / Directors of 29 organisations, urges the Government to set out how it will be working with the devolved administrations to overcome all hurdles to ratification of the IC. Specifically it calls for the following:

● Records of previous meetings between the Government and devolved administrations to discuss the IC.
● A commitment to a meeting between relevant ministers across the administrations to ensure solving the issues of extra-territorial jurisdiction in relation to the IC is a priority.
● A commitment to future engagement on the issues with relevant stakeholders across all four nations.

We would welcome a meeting to discuss how we can work together to ensure that ratification of the Istanbul Convention – and the protection of women and girls from violence – remains a priority.’

You can read the letter below:

Press release: New legislation to allow ratification of Istanbul Convention

Following calls from individuals and organisations across the UK, we are pleased the government has announced today that it will be taking the final step to enable ratification of the Istanbul Convention.

The final law to be sorted in the UK is important – as it means that rape and domestic violence will be recognised as serious crimes that can and should be prosecuted – even when they occur outside the UK. This will help end the impunity of UK citizens who commit violence abroad – and help bring justice to those who have experienced violence.

We are hugely proud of the efforts by everyone involved in campaigning – and will be keeping the pressure on as this law progresses.

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Note to editors: The CEOs and Directors of IC Change and 27 leading women’s organisations sent the following letters calling for this final piece of legislation (extra-territorial jurisdiction to be included in the Domestic Violence Bill the Home Office, Ministry of Justice, and the Prime Minister Theresa May:

Letter to Home Secretary, Amber Rudd

Letter to Justice Secretary, David Lidington

Letter to Prime Minister, Theresa May

 

May 2017 Campaign Update

Hello!

We have a few updates for you:

Our victory

In case you missed it: On the 27th April The Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Bill was signed off by the Queen and became a UK law! This was extremely exciting and a massive step for the campaign made possible by the hard work of all our amazing supporters, Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP and all the fantastic organisations we work with.

However, this is not the end of the road for the IC Change campaign as this law simply means the Government must put in place a timeframe for the ratification of the Istanbul Convention and annually report on the progress they are making towards this. We are going to need your help to get to the finish line!

Planning next steps

The 8th June will mark 5 years since the Government signed the Istanbul Convention. We had plans for a campaign action on this date but it is now the General Election day, we have decided to postpone this. In the run up to the General Election, the IC Change Campaign will appear quiet as behind the scenes we reflect on the campaign so far and next stages.

IC Change leadership

We also want to let you know about are changes to the leadership of the campaign. Rachel is now stepping back from her role as co-director and from the campaign in general. This has been planned for some time to allow her some down time before her world travels. She is incredibly proud of the team and the IC Change supporters for everything they have achieved over the past few years. We will miss her greatly!

Becca and Robyn are working with volunteers to ensure that a new generation of leadership for the campaign comes through.

We will update you with the next phases of the campaign in the coming months via this blog, the change.org petition, and social media but you can still contact us via info[ @] icchange.co.uk in the meantime.

Action (you didn’t think you’d gotten away that easily, did you?)

We wouldn’t be a campaigns team if we didn’t include an ask in our emails…

Could you contact your election candidate?

As mentioned, as well as being the General election, the 8th June will mark five years since the UK government signed the Istanbul Convention. To help us keep up the pressure for the life-saving Convention, please ask your MP candidates if they will be a champion for the ratification of the Istanbul Convention on violence against women if they are elected. You can also use Tweet Your Candidate.

With much love and gratitude, we are signing off for the last time as RRR,

Rachel, Rebecca and Robyn

xxx

We made a law!

We were thrilled to see the Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) bill was signed off by the Queen and became an Act of Parliament yesterday.

This new law requires the government to set a timeline for ratification of the Istanbul Convention (IC) and to report annually on progress they are making towards ratification. Once they have ratified the IC, the law requires them report annually on progress they are making in implementing it.

This success was the result of the hard work of Dr Eilidh Whiteford and supporting MPs from across all parties as well as the coalition of fantastic organisations and individual supporters.

The campaign is far from over – as the UK Government has not yet ratified the Istanbul Convention – but this is a huge step towards this.

In the run up to the General election, the campaign will appear quiet as we prepare for what the world holds after the election. You can still contact us on info@icchange.co.uk

As well as being the General election, the 8th June will mark five years since the UK government signed the Istanbul Convention. To help us keep up the pressure for the life-saving Convention, please ask your MP candidates if they will be a champion for the ratification of the Istanbul Convention on violence against women if elected. Email us if you would like us to send you a briefing to give them to tell them what it is all about.

One step closer to victory!

You’ve only gone and made it happen! That’s right, thanks to all your hard work and support, the Istanbul Convention bill has passed the House of Commons.

 

Photo credit: KE Januszek Photography

We are all ecstatic!

After a ‘lively’ debate, which demonstrated the dedication, reserve and passion of some MPs, well those that stood up after 11.15am, the Istanbul Convention bill which will help move us closer to ratification, passed with 138 votes.

The bill will now move to the House of Lords, where we will continue to monitor its progress and keep you updated.

This has been a long road, and we still have a way to go – but we couldn’t have got here without your help and support. We’ve mobilised MPs from across the political spectrum and got the Istanbul Convention back on the agenda.

This week, Theresa May promised that, “We are fully committed to ratifying it”, and with your continued support, IC Change will hold her to that promise so please keep sharing the petition.

But for now, take some time to celebrate. This hard-fought win is down to you. This law is about women’s lives and today we took a step closer to ending the violence that shatters so many lives.

It’s taken a lot of hard work and dedication from volunteers across the UK to get to this stage. To help us reach the next stage and to celebrate all we’ve done so far, please consider voting for us for the 2017 Care2 UK Impact Award.

The winners receive £1000 which will help us keep campaigning for women to live free from violence – and free from the fear of violence.

Please vote and share here: http://www.care2services.com/2017-uk-impact-award

#ICBill #ChangeHerstory #IstanbulConvention

Shipley constituents urge Philip Davies to sit down

Constituents of Philip Davies, MP of Shipley, have written to MPs across all parties urging them to support the Istanbul Convention as their MP is failing to listen to their pleas.


Dear Members of Parliament,

We are writing to you ahead of the 3rd reading of the Bill on ratifying the Istanbul Convention on violence against women and domestic violence, which is due to take place on Friday. We urge you to show up and support this important Bill, to bring about the urgent reforms needed for the 1 in 4 women in the UK who experience domestic violence in their lifetimes.

Why take the step of writing to you, and not our local MP? We are constituents of Philip Davies MP appalled by his attempts to obstruct this Bill at previous readings. In December he spoke for an hour and derailed the debate by putting forward his own agenda of men’s rights. His slogan is “Your interests, not self-interest” – but nothing could be further from the truth. When we try to engage with him, he brands us “extremists”, “socialists” and “feminist zealots”.

We have alerted Philip Davies to the fact that the Istanbul Convention recognises that men can be victims of domestic violence, and also to the disproportionate number of women who suffer domestic abuse, sexual violence and harassment, stalking and coercive behaviour. He persists in being dismissive of our concerns, and in his argument that the Bill is “discriminatory on the grounds of gender”. We understand he intends to oppose it at the next reading unless his proposed (and numerous) amendments to make it gender-blind are accepted. This is a wilful misunderstanding and sabotage of the Bill – and he cannot do this in our name.

While this Bill is delayed, people (mostly women) are being maimed and killed by abusive partners. To see this legislation filibustered is soul destroying for those who really need the protection of such a Bill. The Prime Minister herself recognises that domestic violence is “a life-shattering and absolutely abhorrent crime” and recently admitted that current legislation lacks clarity, resulting in “unacceptable” inconsistencies in local support for vulnerable women and girls. We hope therefore that this Bill will receive strong cross-party support and that common sense will prevail.

We hope that you will support the Bill, and do everything within your power to ensure that Philip Davies is not allowed to make a shambles of the parliamentary process.

Yours Sincerely,

Shipley ‘Feminist Zealots’

 

Kristina Diprose

Sue Easterbrook

Aisha Ali-khan

Jenny Wilson

Sophie Phillips

Helen Bowman

Christine Edmonds

Janice Thornton

Esther Dixon

Eleanor Armstrong

Jed Skinner

Mandy Jackson

Catherine Warwick

Ian Warwick

Chris Turner

Jessika Osborne

Richard Osborne

Emma Collingwood

Val Turner

Louise Ross

Rachel Griffiths

Cat Crossley

Douglas Lines

Lizzie Nolan

Jan Vekaria

Thomas Dixon

Laura Firth

Natalie Sparrow

Kerrie-Anne Robb

Ruth Dunstan

Helen Walford

Melody Tavenir

Sarah Morrison

Nick Allen

Annie Jackson

Ellie Clement

Shona England-Lees

Chris Grogan

Elaine Phillips

Julie Wilkinson

Anna Watson

Kate Burnett

Annabel Holt

Lucy Hall

Christine Price

Chris Grayston

Rob Janaway

Katie Jones

Kate Ahern

Kath Jackson

Anna Sian Forman

Adam Cole

Nicole Miles

Helen Rowlands

Pete Conkerton

Anne Mackay

Natasha Jackson

Darren Butler

Kathryn Jackson

Jenny Ramsden

Nadine Bloomfield

Neil Terry

Sandra Chewins

David Slaney

Sharon Hattersley

Parvin Vekaria

Bridget Turner

Ruth Frost

Jenny Harold

Suzanne Barrett

Sue Maughan

Rachel Hesselwood

Darren Marks

Katy Witham

Wendy Spink

Claire Anderson

Lee Goater

Sophie Wainman

Bernadette Bowden

Alex James

Richard Ramsden

Claire Wellesley-Smith

Maria Crimmins

Will Lilburn-Quick

Andy Mayes

Liz Porter

Kate Sutcliffe

Ruth Bartlett

Heather Todd

Susan Martin

Vick Jenkins

Claire Nicholson

Steve Pope-Carter

Julie Pope-Carter

Catherine Pass

Gail Smith

Eve Poperwell

Aoife Aston

Lizzie Hutchinson

Holly Lyne

Andy Stanford

Anna Shakoor-Green

Paul Wrigley

Natalie Whiteley

Liz Kingsley

Andrew Calvert

Jude Wright

Mark Nesbitt

Kirstin Sawyer

Marcie Sawyer

Simone Sawyer

Joanne Jagger

Matthew Milnes

Julie Bacon

Sally Trusselle

Ian Hodgson

Kate Welsh

Kerry Hozhabrafkhan

Zac Williamson

Melissa Connor

Lorna Armitage

Tracy Glover

Joe Wheatley

Helen Owen

Marshall Owen

Jessica Owen

Becca Owen

Sara Ahern

Becca Blake

Ben Wray

Morgan Sproxton

Sophie Marfell

Sara Teresa Mollis

Rachel Kaye

Lara Thornton-Berry

Erica Lewis

Amanda Gill

Caroline Bunce

Joyce Robertshaw

Bev Winterbottom

Bob Winterbottom

Sally Allard

Anthony Johnson

Joseph Kean

Susan Kean

Georgina Dickinson

Angela Searle

Vanessa Hawkin

Lynn George

Ruth Simpson

Louise Nutton

Charlotte Furness

Jenny Harris

Lorna Faye Dunsire

Lucy Deakin

Fay Walker

Marissa Aitken

Sally Edwards

Claire Gibbons

PRESS RELEASE: Women’s march

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate release

  • IC Change join thousands of women marching in London in solidarity against hateful and divisive rhetoric – and to amplify the voices of marginalised groups.
  • 133 cross-party MPs voted the life-saving bill to end violence against women through to the committee stage in December
  • Emma Watson was among the names who joined calls from prominent individuals and organisations for ratification of the Istanbul Convention – the ‘gold standard’ of legislation to protect women from gender-based violence

IC Change, a volunteer campaign led by survivors of gender-based violence and service workers, will be among millions of women taking to the streets to protest against the inauguration of Donald Trump tomorrow.

The group will join hundreds of like-minded feminist organisations on the Women’s March in London.

Co-director Rebecca Bunce of IC Change said: “Today is a powerful show of solidarity with women across the world. We join with them to protest hateful and divisive rhetoric, and demonstrate our support of all those impacted by these insidious messages. We march to say violence against women – in any form – is never acceptable.

“Today is a symbol of our wider, diverse movement – and how we can come together to create change. We are proud to march alongside many of the brilliant organisations and individuals that work tirelessly every day to ensure that all are treated with dignity and respect. Beyond the march, we will continue to work with our supporters – including Women’s Aid, Sisters of Frida, Southall Black Sisters and the Women’s Equality Party – to #ChangeHerstory with the ratification of the Istanbul Convention on violence against women.”

On 16th December 2016, MPs voted in favour of ratifying the Istanbul Convention – one of the most significant laws tackling violence against women and girls in British political history. The Bill now passes through to committee stage.

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.[1]

The UK Government signed a commitment to seeing it through four years ago, but the government have so far failed to honour their promise.

Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP put forward this bill, preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (ratification of Convention) 2016-17.

The Bill, which has cross party support, would require the UK Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention on violence against women and legally commit themselves to providing enough funding for shelters, rape crisis centres, helplines, education in schools on healthy relationships, and training for professionals.

Emma Watson added her voice to constituents, local and national organisations to rally MPs to support this bill. The #ChangeHerstory campaign has placed the Istanbul Convention firmly at the top of agenda. However, there is now a need to ensure that a firm timeline for ratification is established.

In order to keep up the pressure and ensure this remains a priority for the government you can sign the petition.

This bill has backing from women’s organisations across the country including all federations of Women’s Aid, Rape Crisis, and Southall Black Sisters.

Notes for Editors

For more information please contact: info@icchange.co.uk or visit For more information visit https://icchange.co.uk/pmb/

  • 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.

[1] Office of National Statitics (2016),Compendium: Chapter 2 Homicide, available online http://bit.ly/29OM1LP.

UK Faith leaders call for Istanbul Convention

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          UK faith leaders launch call for UK Government to take critical action on violence against women

Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh and Hindu faith leaders gathered in the House of Lords to launch a joint call for UK Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention on violence against women – and for MPs to support the Istanbul Convention Private Member’s Bill (PMB) by voting for it on 16 December.

The gathering, hosted by Lord McColl and organised by the IC Change campaign for the UK’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention, Restored and Faith Action, builds on faith leaders’ declaration against domestic abuse launched in 2015.

This call from faith leaders comes when on average two women in England and Wales are killed every week by a current or former male partner and 85,000 women are raped and more than 400,000 sexually assaulted each year.

Violence against women and girls takes many forms and is widespread in the UK. The Convention – aptly described as ‘the best thing you’ve never heard of’ – is a set of life-saving minimum standards on tackling violence against women for a State’s response to the epidemic.

If the UK Government ratified the Istanbul Convention, it would bring unprecedented positive change for women and girls – protecting and supporting women experiencing violence, prosecuting those responsible, and preventing it from happening in the first place by tackling its root causes. In practical terms, It would protect funding for domestic violence services like shelters, rape crisis centres and ensure education on healthy relationships in schools.

The Government promised to make the Convention law over four and a half years ago and it still has not happened.

That’s why faith leaders have united to call on the UK Government to demonstrate its commitment to ending violence against women by making the Istanbul Convention UK law.

More immediately, faith leaders are calling on MPs to attend a debate on 16 December on a life-saving bill for women that would require the UK Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention – and to vote in its favour. And they are asking people across the UK to write to their MPs to ask them to do this. Please find details below on how you can get involved!

Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester, says: ‘Violence against women is an injustice and a violation against the dignity of human beings made in the image of God that the Church must speak out on. The Istanbul Convention provides a strong, practical framework to help us tackle the issue comprehensively in a way that has never been done before’.

‘As faith leaders it is our duty to combat the menace of domestic abuse in our society. We must show unity to call our leaders to do whatever it takes to protect the most vulnerable people in the society,’ Muhammed Al-Hasan, Imams against Domestic Abuse.

On 16 December we have a rare opportunity to change the individual stories of women and girls across the UK who face violence every day and secure this vital protection from violence for them.

Rabbi Sybil Sheridan, adds: ‘We urgently need a stronger framework in which to combat such evils, to make people more aware, to enable us to combat it, to prosecute the perpetrators and prevent its recurrence. This is exactly what the Convention provides’

Faith leaders are calling on people to support this bill by writing to their MP and asking them to go to the debate and vote for the bill.

So what can you do to get involved?

We need to make sure that 100 MPs turn up to Parliament to support it so that it can pass on to the next stage.

However, the 16th December is on a Friday morning – a time when many MPs would normally be in their local constituencies. That’s why we need your help to it’s essential for to contact your MP and to tell them why it’s so important for them show up and support the Bill.

Please write to your MP or arrange to meet them to ask them to attend the debate on 16 December and vote in favour of the Istanbul Convention bill.

You can find all the resources you need here on the IC Change website, including a template letter to help you write to your MP and top tips for meeting your MP. Let IC Change know at info@icchange.co.uk if your MP says yes.

@ICchangeUK I #ChangeHerstory #IstanbulConvention I www.icchange.co.uk/pmb

Photo Credit: KE Januszek Photography