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    EU plans to ratify convention to combat violence against women

    The European Commission has proposed for the European Union to ratify the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention. The Istanbul Convention is the most comprehensive international treaty on combatting violence against women and domestic violence. The Convention was presented in 2011 and entered into force in August 2014.

    Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, announced on March 4: “Our proposal sends a clear message: victims of violence against women must be better protected across Europe. One in three women in the EU has experienced physical or sexual violence, or both. More than half of all women have experienced sexual harassment after the age of 15.

    She added: “These figures are unacceptable and this goes against our values. Today’s proposal for the EU to ratify the Istanbul Convention is a step forward both for our fight against violence and in guaranteeing gender equality. To ensure coherent implementation at all levels, I also call on those Member States who have not yet ratified the Convention to do so swiftly.”

    Among others member states are obliged to establish nationwide 24/7 telephone helplines free of charge. Helplines are essential in offering immediate expert advice and pointing victims towards safety. Member States have also to ensure that shelters are accessible in sufficient numbers and adequately distributed across the country.

    The European Commission is proposing that the European Union accedes to the Convention within its competences and alongside the member states. EU accession to the Convention will result among others in a mandate for better data collection at EU level and accountability for the EU at the international level.

    The proposal to accede to the Istanbul Convention will be discussed in the Council of Ministers and in the European Parliament, whose consent is needed for the conclusion of the Convention by the EU.

    12 member states (Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden) have already ratified the Convention. A further 13 member states have signed it but not yet ratified. According to the European Commission, more signatures and ratifications are expected over the coming months.

    The Brussels Times