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The Istanbul Convention and Why it Matters

What is the Istanbul Convention?

The ‘Istanbul Convention’ is a Council of Europe Convention committing to end violence against women and girls (VAWG), provide support and shelter for survivors, and prosecute perpetrators. It is the first convention that focuses on ending VAWG.

The UK Government signed the Istanbul Convention on 8th June 2012,  but is yet to ratify it. Ratification would make the Convention law and therefore:

-       protect funding for domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centres and helplines

-       make sure that children are taught about healthy relationships at school

-       guarantee awareness-raising campaigns

Several organisations support UK ratification, including Women’s Aid and Scottish Women’s Aid. A report in 2015 by the Joint Committee on Human Rights called on the then government to prioritise ratification of the Istanbul Convention, while Amnesty International has said that all European governments should ratify the Convention. To date, only 22 of the 43 Members of the European Council have ratified the Convention.

When will the Istanbul Convention be ratified?

A Private Member’s Bill has been introduced by Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP which, if successful, would make the convention law in the UK. 100 MPs need to turn up and vote to support it on Friday 16th December for the ratification to succeed.

Why Lambeth Labour supports the ratification of the Istanbul Convention

Lambeth Council is recognised across the country as a leader in tackling VAWG. Despite acute budget pressures, the council has protected services such as the Gaia Centre on Brixton Road, which has made a real difference to the lives of women and girls across the borough. 95% of women say their experience of the GAIA centre has increased their sense of safety and 91% say it has improved their quality of life.

Gaia_centre.jpg

Police data shows there has been a sharp increase in domestic and sexual violence over the last five years. To mark the UN’s International Day to Eliminate Violence Against Women and Girls last month, Lambeth launched a new VAWG strategy to mark a renewed commitment to tackling VAWG over the next four years.

Cllr Mohammed Seedat, Cabinet Member for Healthier and Stronger Communities, says that the council’s vision,

“remains one where Lambeth is a borough in which residents do not have to be fearful of, or experience, gender-based violence. Victims will not be held responsible for the violence against them, and they will be empowered to take control and make decisions for themselves.”

“Ratification of the Istanbul Convention is a crucial step to ensure that the Government keeps its promises and provides the resources needed to effectively tackle VAWG.”

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