Parliamentary Network "Women Free from Violence"

About the network

Presentation

List of members

Mandate

The Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence

Convention Website “Safe from fear, Safe from violence”

Resolution 1963 (2013), Recommendation 2030 (2013) of the Parliamentary Assembly and Mr Mendes Bota’s report on Violence against women in Europe

Resolution 1861 (2012) and Mr Mendes Bota's report on Promoting the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence

The entry into force of the Convention on preventing violence against women must be speeded up

Resolution 1635 (2008), Recommendation 1847 (2008) of the Parliamentary Assembly and Mr Mendes Bota’s report on Combating violence against women: towards a Council of Europe

Resolution 1582 (2007), Recommendation 1817 (2007) and Mr Mendes Bota's report on "Parliaments united in combating domestic violence against women": mid-term assessment

Handbook for parliamentarians

 
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Newsletter : June 2012, October 2012, January 2013, April 2013, June 2013, October 2013, January 2014, April 2014, June 2014

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Parliamentary seminars

 

Network meeting – Violence against women with disabilities

Strasbourg, 24 June 2014

Meeting room in the Palais de l'Europe

At its next meeting, the Network will hold a hearing on violence against women with disabilities, with the participation of Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe; Ana Peláez Narváez, member of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Director of International Relations at the Spanish National Organisation of the Blind (ONCE) (by videoconference); Emeritus Professor Gill Hague, Professor of Violence Against Women Studies, Centre for Gender and Violence Research, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol.

The meeting is open to the public. If you want to participate, please register before 23 June, 12pm: womenfreefromviolence@coe.int.

 

The Istanbul Convention will enter into force

1 August 2014

The Istanbul Convention entering into force

Andorra became the 10th member state of the Council of Europe to ratify the Istanbul Convention! “With this 10th ratification, the ‘gold standard’ for preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence becomes a concrete tool for the protection of victims. The extent of violence against women and the lack of awareness around it indicate that this Convention will be the starting point of a long process to change the heart and minds of people”, said Mendes Bota, General Rapporteur on violence against women.

 

Wounded to death

Strasbourg, 9 April 2014

le Réseau parlementaire  pour “le droit des femmes de vivre sans violence” accueille une  représentation du show théâtral “Blessées à mort”

Meeting in Strasbourg on 9 April 2014, the Parliamentary Network “Women Free from Violence” hosted a performance of the theatre show “Wounded to death”, by the Italian writer and TV entertainer Serena Dandini.

“Wounded to death” features short stories of women who have died as a result of gender-based violence. The stories are read in the first person to allow the audience to identify with the victim.

For this special performance at the Council of Europe, readers included the President of the Parliamentary Assembly, the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, a number of Network members, the French photographer and director Carole Mathieu Castelli and Serena Dandini. Readers made a strong and lasting impression on the audience. Whilst listening to their interpretation of the different stories, the spectators were able to put themselves in the shoes of the victims and imagine their suffering.

After the performance, Network members held an exchange of views with the author. Some members expressed an interest in hosting the show in their national parliaments with a view to contributing to raising awareness on the urgent need to combat and prevent violence against women and domestic violence.

Link to Ferite a morte

Video recording

Photo gallery

 

Hearing on Focusing on the victims’ needs

Vienna, 4 March 2014

Hearing on Focusing on the victims’ needs

Meeting in Vienna on 4 March 2014, the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination and the Parliamentary Network “Women Free from Violence” held an exchange of views with Ms Gabriele Heinisch-Hosek, Austrian Federal Minister for Education and Women, who presented the actions of the Austrian authorities to prevent and combat violence against women. “Protection and prevention are the key words (…) The starting point of prevention is creating awareness”. She stressed that “cooperation between NGOs and the police was crucial in establishing and maintaining protection of victims” and encouraged this cooperation to continue and be strengthened.

The Committee and the Network members also held a hearing on “focusing on the victims’ needs” with the participation of Ms Luisella Pavan-Woolfe, Ambassador, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the Council of Europe and Ms Ursula Till-Tentschert, Programme Manager at the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).  “The EU is working tirelessly to achieve concrete results against all forms of violence against women", stressed Ambassador Pavan Woolfe, while the FRA representative gave a preview of the results of the FRA survey on violence against women in the EU. "One in three women have suffered physical or sexual violence since the age of 15. 15 million women in the EU have been victims of physical or sexual violence in the last year", said Ms Till-Tentschert.

FRA survey

Photo gallery

 

Hearing on the sexual exploitation of girls

Strasbourg, 29 January 2014

Hearing on the sexual exploitation of girls

The Parliamentary Network “Women Free from Violence” together with the Network of Contact Parliamentarians to stop sexual violence against children held a hearing on sexual exploitation of girls at their joint meeting on 29 January 2014, with the participation of Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Livia Aninosanu, director of the NGO “Centre for Partnership and Equality” (Romania) and Roshan Heiler, director of the SOLWODI (Solidarity with women in distress) counselling centre (Germany).

“Sexual exploitation of girls is one of the most horrendous crimes in our countries (…). As parliamentarians, we have a role to play to fight this scourge”, stressed Stella Kyriakides, General Rapporteur on children when opening the meeting. “All Council of Europe States except one have signed the Council of Europe Convention on Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, known as the Lanzarote Convention, and 29 have ratified it”, she continued.

With regard to the Istanbul Convention, Mr Mendes Bota, General Rapporteur on violence against women called on members to continue their efforts and take further initiatives to promote it. “The Austrian Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers has made entry into force of the Convention one of its priorities and I hope it will be possible to mark the entry into force of the Convention during the Ministerial Session in Vienna in May 2014” announced the Deputy Secretary General. She thanked members for their continued efforts to keep the Convention high on the political agendas of their governments.

“Year after year, the number of girls victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation or sexually exploited has increased. In addition, in 2012-2013, the percentage of girls who were sexually exploited in Romania became higher than the percentage of young women and women victims of sexual exploitation”, said Livia Aninosanu. She also stressed the importance of the role of the loverboys, who provide the girls with assistance and care they never had in their families. Roshan Heiler presented the work of her NGO which provides assistance to victims of trafficking and of sexual exploitation. “Victims are younger than before in Germany, most young victims our NGO assists come from Albania, Nigeria and Romania”.

Closing the meeting, Mr Mendes Bota presented the findings of his report on Prostitution, trafficking and modern slavery in Europe, which will be presented to the Assembly during the April 2014 part-session.

Speech by the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe

Speech and presentation by Roshan Heiler, SOLWODI (in German)

Witness: Roshan Heiler – human trafficking and the sex trade in Aachen, by Human Rights Europe

Witness: Livia Aninosanu – Loverboys, minors and the sex trade

Photo gallery

 

Romanian Parliament hosts regional conference on violence against women

Bucharest, 25 November 2013

Regional Conference in Romanian Parliament

“Violence does not stop at the borders of a country and I do believe in the efficiency of a concerted response to violence against women” said Ana Birchall, Network member for Romania, at the Regional Conference on violence against women and the Istanbul Convention held on 25 November 2013 in the Romanian Parliament. She encouraged parliamentarians from Romania, Hungary, the Republic of Moldova and Serbia, who had gathered for this occasion, to cooperate and be pro-active in combating violence against women. The Regional Conference was co-organised by the Romanian Parliament and the Network, thanks to a voluntary contribution from the German government.

Though difficulties are still present in Romania, mainly due to the lack of funding and gaps in the implementation of legislation, the country has taken a step forward in the battle against this scourge. In the summer of 2013, a campaign “Stop violence, protect the family” was launched while a law on equal opportunities was debated in the Senate.

“The Romanian government is in the last phase of signing the Convention and the ratification in Parliament should not encounter any obstacles considering the large consensus in place (...) I remain very positive and optimistic that Romania will sign and ratify as soon as possible and that this 25 November will be the last without the Istanbul Convention”, stated Ana Birchall.

Message of Victor Ponta, Prime Minister, Romania

Speech of Tina Acketoft, Chair of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination, PACE

Handbook in Romanian

 

The Network reaches out to the Americas

Brasilia, 14 October 2013

Meeting of the Network in Strasbourg

“The Parliamentary Network is the expression of a strong political will which is present in most European parliaments. One cannot win a battle without political will”, stressed José Mendes Bota, Network Political Coordinator and PACE’s General Rapporteur on violence against women when presenting the Istanbul Convention and Network activities for its promotion to the Network of Women Parliamentarians of the Americas on 14 October 2013 in Brasilia.

“For the moment, the first priority of our Network is the promotion of the Istanbul Convention. We try to offer to our members a comprehensive framework on which they can base themselves to work towards the elimination of violence against women”, he added.

The Network of Women Parliamentarians of the Americas brings together members of State parliamentary assemblies, regional parliaments and inter-parliamentary organisations in the Americas. Its objectives are to encourage the representation and action of women in the Parliaments of the Americas, to foster the sharing of experience among them, and to promote solidarity among women in general. The Network holds an Annual Meeting, often in conjunction with the General Assembly of the Parliamentary Confederation of the Americas (COPA).

Speech by Mr Mendes Bota (in Spanish only)

Network of Women Parliamentarians of the Americas

Photo gallery

 

Violence against women: unveiling the invisible

Strasbourg, 10 October 2013

Meeting of the Network in Strasbourg

“Unveiling the invisible” was the theme of the 4th symposium on violence against women held by the City of Strasbourg which brought together about 900 participants including representatives of public authorities, social workers and members of civil society. “I am glad to see that such events are being organised by local authorities. This proves that gender-based violence is increasingly being discussed in the public space and is becoming a priority on political agendas”, stated José Mendes Bota, invited for the discussion on taking violence into account in public policies. The Symposium included discussions on gender, statistics as tools to make violence against women visible and the public space as a potential place where violence might occur.

Programme

Speech by José Mendes Bota (French)

 

“Violence against women: does the rehabilitation of perpetrators work?”

Strasbourg, 2 October 2013

Meeting of the Network in Strasbourg

“Violence against women: does the rehabilitation of perpetrators work?”
Strasbourg, 2 October 2013

The rehabilitation of perpetrators was the focus of the Network meeting on 2 October 2013 in Strasbourg, with the participation of Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe,  Frédéric Matwies, author of the book “There was a monster in me”, Thangam Debbonaire, Research Manager of Respect (UK) and Rosa Logar, co-founder of Women against violence Europe (WAVE).

“Thanks to my wife who reported me to the police, the violence stopped” testified Frédéric Matwies about his experience as a former perpetrator of violence against his wife. He underwent group and individual therapy which taught him how to better manage conflict, avoid an escalation of tension and express himself with words only. Thangam Debonnaire presented rehabilitation programmes for perpetrators run by her NGO. “Most men are still violence-free 4 years after the end of the programme (…) and most of women whose partners have been on the programme say they feel much safer. Risk management works better when we work with the perpetrator and the victim”, she highlighted. Rosa Logar stressed that rehabilitation could work if there was a system in place to provide assistance to the victims.

Athina Kyriakidou, Network member and rapporteur for a report on “Focusing on the perpetrators to prevent violence against women” called on Assembly members to exercise their power in order to minimise budget cuts for support programmes for victims and rehabilitation programmes for perpetrators.

Speech by the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe

Motion for a resolution on “Focusing on the perpetrators to prevent violence against women”

Domestic violence and the crisis of masculinity, by Human Rights Europe 

Interview of Frédéric Matwies (French)

Video recording of the meeting
Original version

French
 
English

 

Madrid, Monday 16 September 2013

Spain: Breaking the silence around violence against women

Ms Blanca Hernández
Ms Blanca Hernández, Spanish Government Commissioner for Gender-based Violence

“Combating violence against women is about breaking the silence”, said Ms Blanca Hernández, Spanish Government Commissioner for Gender-based Violence, to the members of the Network and the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination at their meeting on 16 September 2013 in Madrid. When sharing the experience and commitment of Spain in combating this scourge, Ms Hernández insisted on the fact that “individual follow-up for every woman who is victim of violence was essential since each victim is a world of its own”, while emphasising the importance of specific measures targeted at vulnerable groups, such as elderly, rural women and women with disabilities. She highlighted the need to raise awareness on this phenomenon via social networks. “We are all actors in the fight against gender-based violence”, she concluded.

Speech of Ms Hernández (Spanish only)

 

The economic dimensions of violence against women

Meeting of the Network in Madrid
Meeting of the Network in Madrid

Photo gallery

The Network discussed the economic dimensions of violence against women at its meeting in Madrid with the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination. When opening the meeting, Mr Mendes Bota, Political Coordinator of the Network, highlighted that “effective legislation and policies against gender-based violence would allow important savings in terms of medical and psychological assistance and rehabilitation”;. In addition to these costs, economic dependency of the victims was too often the factor preventing them to report violence or to leave.

“Preventing economic violence against women requires active policies and measures aiming at economic equality between women and men and the empowerment of women”, said Mr Javier Truchero, lawyer and former representative of Spain on the Ad Hoc Committee on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (CAHVIO). He stressed that “economic violence, as a form of psychological violence and a conduct directed to depriving the victim of all or any of its economic or financial resources, should be criminalised”. Members also had the opportunity to discuss the costs of violence against women for employers with Ms Melissa Morbeck, Executive Director of the Corporate Alliance against Domestic Violence (CAADV). “Employers have not only a moral and economic obligation to support their staff, but also have legal requirements in the form of employment laws to protect the health and safety of their staff, mitigate risks to worker health and wellbeing and to protect their corporate assets”, she said. According to data collected by CAADV, 75% of people who endure violence are targeted at work and 30% of domestic violence homicides in 2011 happened on workplace grounds in the United Kingdom.

Speech of Mr Truchero
Speech of Ms Morbeck

 

Strasbourg, 27 June 2013

“France to ratify Istanbul Convention soon”, Minister of Women’s Rights announces

Ms Najat Vallaud-Belkacem
Ms Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Minister for Women’s Rights, France

At an exchange of views held during a meeting of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination on 27 June 2013 in Strasbourg, Ms Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, French Minister for Women’s Rights, hoped the Istanbul Convention would soon enter into force and announced that France would be one of the next States to ratify it. The Minister also commended the Parliamentary Assembly’s commitment to combat violence against women and praised the actions of the Parliamentary Network Women Free from Violence for the promotion of the Convention, in the presence Mr Jean-Claude Mignon, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Minister Vallaud-Belkacem shared her impatience to ratify the Istanbul Convention which she considered a “fundamental text” bringing a multi-dimensional response to violence against women. A bill for the ratification of the Convention was presented at the National Assembly on 15 May 2013 and the legislation to combat forced marriages and female genital mutilations had been reinforced with a view to prepare for ratification.

“Intimacy should not rhyme with impunity”, stated Minister Vallaud-Belkacem. She regretted that a majority of cases of domestic violence and violence against women were not reported to the police and called for actions to encourage victims to report violence.

The Minister for Women’s Rights also stressed that she actively promoted the Convention in exchanges with other countries. Recalling the side event organised jointly by the Council of Europe and the permanent mission of France to the United Nations during the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York, Ms Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe hoped that close cooperation would continue for the organisation of a joint side event at the CSW in 2014.

Video

English
Original version

Photo gallery

Side event at the 57th session of the CSW

 

24 - 28 June 2013


Exhibition “Refugee women and violence”, World Refugee Day

A work by the Belgian illustrator Aelys
A work by the Belgian illustrator Aelys

On the occasion of World Refugee Day, the UNHCR and the Network “Women Free from Violence” organised a cartoon exhibition by the Belgian illustrator Aelys during the Parliamentary Assembly session in Strasbourg. The cartoon recounted the true story of Indira Mila,* a female victim of domestic violence who fled her country to seek refuge with her daughter, a journey fraught with fear and obstacles. Her story portrays the daily lives of thousands of refugee women who end up experiencing violence twice.

This exhibition followed a Network meeting held in January 2013, where refugee women who were victims of violence shared their dramatic experiences with the audience.

* The name has been changed

Refugee Women and the Istanbul Convention - Proceedings based on the hearing organised by the Parliamentary Network “Women Free from Violence”, the Committee on Migrations, Refugees and Displaced Persons of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Photo gallery

 

26 June 2013


“Women, violence and art” – Network meeting 

Photo©Amer Kapetanovic/UN Women campaign “16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women” 2011
Photo©Amer Kapetanovic/UN Women campaign “16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women” 2011

In view of the “International day for the elimination of violence against women and girls” and the 16 days of activism, the Network held a meeting on 26 June 2013 on the topic of “Women, violence and art” with the participation of Ms Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe. The main objective of the meeting was to gather creative ideas in order to organise awareness-raising events for 25 November 2013. According to a report by the World Health Organization, “38% of all women murdered were killed by their partners. Figures are important (…). But numbers alone cannot make us fully grasp the cruel reality they reflect. Art may sometimes do so with great sincerity, passion and conviction”, said Ms Battaini-Dragoni.

Mr Amer Kapetanovic´, a Bosnian photographer, presented his contribution to the 2011 UN campaign on youth and men’s engagement in ending violence against women in Bosnia and Herzegovina (www.16dana.ba/en/about-the-campaign). Ms Zora Bachmann, director of the “This human world” (www.thishumanworld.com) human rights film festival in Vienna and Chair of the Human Rights Film Network (www.humanrightsfilmnetwork.org) highlighted the importance of cinema as an awareness-raising tool on human rights. “Human rights films are films that inform on and provide understanding of past and present human rights violations”, stressed Ms Bachmann.

Mr Mendes Bota, Political Coordinator of the Network Women Free from Violence, encouraged Network members to ask for films on violence against women to be shown during human rights film festivals and to contribute actively to debates held during these festivals.”

Photo gallery

 

7 May 2013


Seminar in Baku, Azerbaijan 

Parliamentary seminar on the Istanbul Convention
Parliamentary seminar on the Istanbul Convention

A parliamentary seminar on the Istanbul Convention, organised by Sahiba Gafarova, a friend of the Network, took place on 7 May in Baku, Azerbaijan. This initiative was positively welcomed by Azerbaijani parliamentarians, government representatives and NGOs. The seminar also saw the launching of the handbook on the Istanbul Convention in Azeri. “I am pleased to see that this seminar raised interest among Azerbaijani parliamentarians and far beyond. Violence against women is a scourge in Azerbaijan, as anywhere else in the world. I truly hope this initiative will bring positive results in the near future. Azerbaijani women demand it,” declared Ms Gafarova.

Mr Mendes Bota, who participated as a guest speaker in the seminar, also had the opportunity to meet with several offcials during his stay in Baku, including Ms Hijran Huseynova, Chairperson of the State Committee on Family, Children and Women’s Affairs and Mr Ogtay Asadov, Chairman of the national parliament, Milli Mejlis. “Following several meetings I had in Baku, I am confident that Azerbaijan will soon join the signatory states,” said the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly’s general rapporteur on violence against women.

 

24 April 2013


Hearing on prostitution and trafficking, Strasbourg 

Ms Battaini-Dragoni, Mr Mendes Bota and Mr Santini
Ms Battaini-Dragoni, Mr Mendes Bota and Mr Santini

Iva worked for five years and had only stopped two months before taking part in the Network hearing. Like many women, she was forced into prostitution. She is now living in a shelter and trying to get her life back on the right track. The hearing was an opportunity to discuss the impact that different policies have on trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, based on the Swedish and Dutch experiences. Mr Simon Häggström, a police officer from the Prostitution Unit of the Stockholm Police, presented the consequences of Sweden’s Sex Purchase Act of 1999, which makes it illegal to purchase sexual services but not to sell them. According to Mr Häggström, the biggest problem related to prostitution and trafficking is the demand. Indeed, if there is no demand for sexual services, there is no market for it. And this is why, by decreasing the number of sex clients, the Swedish law has also resulted in a decrease in prostitution according to official figures. “How can it be free will when many of these women only have one choice?” he asked.

This position is not the general consensus among all European countries and was not shared by the second guest speaker. Ms Ilonka Stakelborough, the founder of Stichting Geisha, a trade union for sex workers, has been a voluntary sex worker for 25 years in the Netherlands, where prostitution has been legal and regulated since 2000. Ms Stakelborough insisted that a distinction should always be made between prostitution and human trafficking. She would like to see the regulation of voluntary prostitution. If the authorities could establish a dialogue with sex workers, it would be easier for them to identify and help victims of trafficking.

“The Council of Europe’s commitment to condemn forced prostitution and trafficking in human beings dates from many years ago and the Parliamentary Assembly has played an important role in this,” declared Mr Mendes Bota. “In addition to being the General Rapporteur on violence against women, I am also responsible for a report on ‘Criminalising the purchase of sex to combat the trafficking of people for sexual exploitation’. I know how difficult a problem this is to tackle and I will do my best to ensure that it will be placed at the top of the political agenda,” he added.

 

4-7 March 2013


Network members call for ratification of the Istanbul Convention at the Commission on the Status of Women, New York 

Mr Mendes Bota, Ms Bachelet, Ms Quintanilla Barba and Ms Bonet Perot
Mr Mendes Bota, Ms Bachelet, Ms Quintanilla Barba and Ms Bonet Perot

Ms Bonet Perot (Andorra, SOC), Ms Giannakaki (Greece, NR), Ms Memecan (Turkey, ALDE), Mr Mendes Bota (Portugal, EPP/CD), Political Coordinator of the Network, Ms Quintanilla Barba (Spain, EPP/CD), Ms Tzakri (Greece, SOC) and Ms Wurm (Austria, SOC) participated in the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women from 4 to 7 March 2013 in New York. They promoted the Istanbul Convention and its added value for the protection of women from violence in a number of side events, including a one-day event on parliamentary strategies to combat violence against women organised by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and UN Women on 5 March 2013.

Mr Mendes Bota also met with parliamentary delegations and government representatives from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Morocco and Switzerland, in addition to members of the European Parliament. “Mexico and Canada expressed interest and could be among the first 10 states to ratify the Istanbul Convention since they participated in the drafting of the Convention”, stated Mr Mendes Bota. “Ms Lakshmi Puri, Acting Executive Director of UN Women, also reaffirmed her strong support for the Convention and announced that UN Women would continue promoting this ground-breaking instrument throughout the world”, he continued.   

Mr Mendes Bota called on government representatives and parliamentarians present at the CSW for concrete action and urged them to ratify the Istanbul Convention without delay on several occasions, including at the side event “Violence against Women: our concern, our response” organised by the Council of Europe and the permanent mission of France to the United Nations on 4 March 2013, with the participation of Mr Gilbert Saboya Sunyé, Minister of Foreign Affairs (Andorra) and Chairman of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and Ms Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, Minister for Women’s Rights and Government Spokesperson (France). The Parliamentary Network Women Free from Violence welcomed the adoption of the CSW conclusions on 15 March 2013, which give a fresh impetus to the fight to eradicate violence against women worldwide.  

Mr Mendes Bota and the Network members warmly thanked Ms Michelle Bachelet, first Executive Director of UN Women, for her crucial political role in pushing forward the women’s rights agenda, and expressed the wish to continue to co-operate with her successor.

Website of the side event “Violence against women: our concern, our response”

Programme of the IPU side event

Adopted conclusions

 

6 February 2013


‘A safe and just world for women and girls is one without female genital mutilation’ 

Ms Marlene Rupprecht (Germany, SOC) and Mr Mendes Bota (Portugal, EPP/CD)
Ms Marlene Rupprecht (Germany, SOC) and Mr Mendes Bota (Portugal, EPP/CD)

Joint statement to mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation by José Mendes Bota (Portugal, EPP/CD), general rapporteur on violence against women, and Marlene Rupprecht (Germany, SOC), general rapporteur on children of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)

Strasbourg, 06.02.2013 – “Female genital mutilation is a serious form of violence against women and girls, as recognised by the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention, CETS No. 210). Worldwide, three million women and girls are subjected to this violation of their physical integrity every year. It is estimated that, in Europe, 500,000 women and girls are suffering from the lifelong consequences of female genital mutilation.

We welcome UN General Assembly Resolution 67/146, adopted in December 2012, as a milestone text, banning female genital mutilation worldwide and calling on States to take all necessary measures to protect women and girls from this form of violence.
 
We urge Council of Europe member states to sign and ratify the Istanbul Convention and to introduce legislation criminalising female genital mutilation. States should ensure protection and support both for those who have been subjected to it, and for those at risk of it, including asylum seekers, refugees and migrants. In their foreign policy, states should promote respect for women’s rights, including the right to be protected against any form of violence.

A concerted effort is necessary to bring about a change of mentality, and eradicate the customs and traditions which justify female genital mutilation. Addressing members of the Parliamentary Assembly during the recent January session, a young woman who survived genital mutilation said: “Of course, under the law I could have taken my mother and my grandmother before the courts. But can you imagine a child doing so?” Children cannot be left alone to fight against human rights violations. A safe and just world for women and girls is one without female genital mutilation. The responsibility to make this happen lies with us.”

 

5 February 2013

‘Two more ratifications raise hopes that the Istanbul Convention may enter into force in 2013’

Mr Mendes Bota (Portugal, EPP/CD), General rapporteur on violence against women
Mr Mendes Bota (Portugal, EPP/CD), General rapporteur on violence against women

Strasbourg, 05.02.2013 – “I welcome the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence by Albania on 4 February and Portugal on 5 February 2013. I sincerely hope they will be followed by more states in the coming months,” declared José Mendes Bota (Portugal, EPP/CD), PACE general rapporteur on violence against women. “After Turkey and Albania, Portugal is the first member State of the European Union to ratify the Istanbul Convention, and that is also an important sign,” he added.

“The Convention is the most advanced international instrument dealing with gender-based violence, recognising violence against women as a human rights violation and a form of discrimination,” explained Mr Mendes Bota.

“National legislations may not be perfectly in line with the Convention, but this should not be used as an excuse to postpone ratification as there will always be room for improvement. I therefore call on all member States of the Council of Europe to keep up this momentum and speed up the ratification process. The Convention will enter into force following its 10th ratification, and all together we have to make it possible in 2013,” concluded Mr Mendes Bota.
 

Helsinki, 17-18 January 2013

Regional conference on the Istanbul Convention in Helsinki

Helsinki Conference
Helsinki Conference

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, the Finnish Parliament and the Council of Europe organised a regional conference on the Istanbul Convention, “From signature to ratification and implementation - Exchange of experience and practices” on 17 and 18 January 2013 in Helsinki. This event brought together members of parliament and government representatives including Mr Erkki Tuomioja, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland and Ms Agnieszka Kozłowskiej-Rajewicz, Secretary of State, Government Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment of Poland. Experts from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Sweden and Russia also participated. 

“The Istanbul Convention has the potential of effectively preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence in Europe and beyond. It is a treaty made in Europe but not meant for Europe only. It is open to accession by non-European States and is already inspiring the legislations and policies of countries across the globe” declared Mr Philippe Boillat, Director General of Human Rights and Rule of Law of the Council of Europe.

“Even if they support the Istanbul Convention, some states are taking a long time to ratify it. I think that, in this case, perfectionism is the enemy of good. If the changes necessary to align domestic law with the Convention are limited, or concern only a few policy areas, ratification should be finalised without further delay, in 2013. Further adaptations can be made at a later stage (…). Victims of violence have already waited too long”, concluded Mr Mendes Bota, Political Coordinator of the Parliamentary Network Women Free from Violence.

Intervention by Mr Mendes Bota, Political Co-ordinator of the Parliamentary Network Women Free from Violence

Intervention by Mr Philippe Boillat, Director General of Human Rights and Rule of Law of the Council of Europe

Final programme and other speeches

 

Strasbourg, 23 January 2013

Network meeting – Refugee women and the Istanbul Convention

At its next meeting, organised jointly with UNHCR and the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons, the Network will hold a hearing on refugee women and the Istanbul Convention, with the participation of Ms Fadela Novak-Irons, Policy Officer, Policy and Legal Support Unit at the UNHCR Office in Brussels and Ms Päivi Hirvelä, Judge at the European Court of Human Rights (Finland). Participants will hear a testimony by Ms Djenabou Teliwel Diallo, a victim of female genital mutilation.

Draft programme

 

Do you know the Istanbul Convention on violence against women?

Handbook for parliamentarians
Front cover of the Handbook for parliamentarians

 

Find out why the Istanbul Convention is a ground-breaking instrument which can change the lives of millions of women and girls in every country of the world.
 

Have a look at the handbook explaining the Convention and share it with your friends.  You can contact us to receive printed copies. It exists in English, French, Italian, German, Russian, Portuguese, Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, and will soon be available in Arabic, Greek and Spanish.

 

Strasbourg, 29 December 2012

PACE President expressed sadness and consternation following the death of the young student gang-raped in a New Delhi bus

Mr Jean-Claude Mignon
Mr Jean-Claude Mignon, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

 

PACE President Jean-Claude Mignon expressed his sadness and consternation following the death of the young student who was gang-raped in a bus in New Delhi. "I would like, once again, to condemn this cowardly and ignoble act. At the same time, I would like to express my deepest sympathies to the family and to the relatives of the young woman," declared the PACE President.

"The Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly are carrying out a universal campaign to fight domestic violence and violence against women. The Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, open also to non-member states of the Council of Europe, is an important tool at our disposal and I would like to stress the importance of promoting this legal instrument, including through the Parliamentary Network 'Women Free from Violence'," he added.

 

Strasbourg, 18 December 2012

Poland signs the Istanbul Convention

Ms Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz and Ms Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni
Ms Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz, Polish Secretary of State responsible for gender equality and Ms Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe

On 18 December 2012 in Strasbourg, the Polish Secretary of State responsible for gender equality, Agnieszka Kozłowska-Rajewicz, signed the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. Poland is the 26th country to sign the Istanbul Convention. However, the ratification process may take some time, as many aspects of Polish legislation should be revised to be made compatible with the provisions of the Convention.

 

Lisbon, 14 December 2012

Portuguese parliament: green light to the ratification of the Istanbul Convention

Following a unanimous vote in plenary sitting on 14 December, the Portuguese parliament gave its green light to the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. The internal procedure will require some additional formalities before the instrument of ratification is deposited with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe. After that, Portugal will join Turkey as one of the first countries to have ratified the Istanbul Convention. This vote follows a parliamentary seminar which was organised in Lisbon by Mr Mendes Bota, Political Co-ordinator of the Network, in the context of the 16 days of activism against gender violence.

On 8 November 2012, the Albanian Parliament approved ratification and is expected to deposit its ratification instrument soon.

 

Lisbon, 3 December 2012

Portugal: parliamentary groups support the Istanbul Convention, echoed by the judiciary

Conference in Portugal
Conference in Portugal

At the initiative of Mr Mendes Bota, Political Co-ordinator of the Network, an international conference on “Violence against women and the Istanbul Convention” was organised in the Portuguese parliament, in the context of the 16 days of activism against gender violence.

Representatives of all parliamentary groups in parliament expressed political support for the Convention, which was defined as an essential instrument to ensure maximal protection for women victims of violence by Ms Joana Marques Vidal, Portugal’s General Prosecutor.

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Ms Teresa Caeiro, acknowledged that further efforts should be made to address weaknesses in the legislative framework, such as improving data collection, taking into consideration domestic violence when deciding on parental rights and tackling sexual harassment. Emphasis was also put on the need to improve coordination between the different actors and above all the enforcement of existing legislation.

During the event, the handbook on the Istanbul Convention in Portuguese was launched.

Despite acknowledging these shortcomings, participants agreed that the overall legislative framework for the protection of women against violence in Portugal is sound and that the ratification of the Convention should not require a complex adaptation.

Portugal is amongst the first signatories of the Istanbul Convention.  The debate on the ratification of the Istanbul Convention is foreseen on 12 December in the Portuguese Parliament, with possibly a vote on 14 December.

Programme

Video retransmission

Handbook (in Portuguese)

 

Brussels, 30 November 2012

Belgium: no objection to ratifying the Istanbul Convention

Mr Mendes Bota and Ms Fatiha Saïdi
Mr Mendes Bota and Ms Fatiha Saïdi

“To date, the ratification of the Istanbul Convention raises no objection,” stated Sabine de Bethune, President of the Belgian Senate, at a parliamentary seminar organised in connection with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. “This seminar is a strong political signal for encouraging our government to put this point on the agenda,” added the President, co-author of a law passed in May 2012 on temporary restriction of residence in case of domestic violence.

Belgium has pursued a proactive policy for some years, as was recalled by Ms Ines de Biolley, equal opportunities adviser to the Deputy Prime Minister’s Private Office. Violence against women is combated notably under a national action plan associating the federal government, the Communities and the Regions. The plan provides for more than 120 measures to combat violence between partners, but also forced marriages, violence linked with honour and female genital mutilation.

According to all speakers present, Belgium thus seems on the right track for a forthcoming ratification. “A draft resolution to ratify the Istanbul Convention will be presented next week in the advisory committee on equal opportunities for women and men. In this way, we hope to speed up the process and arrive at a ratification very shortly,” said Ms Fatiha Saïdi, Belgian Senator and member of the network, who took the initiative to organise this event.

Belgium signed the Istanbul Convention on 11 September this year.

Programme

 

Sarajevo, 21 November 2012

Launch of the handbook on the Istanbul Convention in Sarajevo

Mr José Mendes Bota


“One in five women is a victim of violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, deplored Mr Lozančić, Chairperson of the Gender Equality Committee of the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina, at the parliamentary seminar held in Sarajevo on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

The seminar, organised by the Committee on Gender Equality, in cooperation with the Parliamentary Network “Women Free from Violence”, and with the support of the OSCE, allowed parliamentarians to discuss the actions undertaken in Bosnia and Herzegovina to tackle violence against women and familiarise themselves with the Istanbul Convention.  

Ms Ismeta Dervoz, Network member and First Vice-Chairperson of the Committee on Gender Equality of the Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina, officially launched the handbook for parliamentarians on the Istanbul Convention, which has been translated into Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian.

Programme

 

Strasbourg, 28 November 2012

Regional conference on the Istanbul Convention in Helsinki,
17-18 January 2013

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, the Finnish Parliament and the Council of Europe are organising a regional conference on “the Istanbul Convention: From signature to ratification and implementation. Exchange of experiences and practices” (Helsinki, 17-18 January 2013). The event will bring together members of parliament, government representatives and experts from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Sweden and Russia. Working languages: English and Russian.

Programme

 

Italy: Possible ratification of the Istanbul Convention before the next election

Around the celebration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, a parliamentary seminar organised by Network members Deborah Begamini, Anna Maria Carloni and PACE member Federica Mogherini catalysed political support for a speedy ratification of the Istanbul Convention by Italy.

Intervening at the seminar, the Minister for Social Affairs Elsa Fornero expressed the wish that, although it had been amongst the last countries to sign the Convention, Italy may be amongst the first ones to ratify it, thus enabling it to enter into force. She was echoed by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Marta Dassù, who concluded the seminar by recalling that the elimination of violence against women would be beneficial not only to women but to society as a whole

Several speakers, including the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, insisted on the need to promote a change of mind-set in society, through education and media, so as to ensure that violence against women is understood for what it is: a violation of human rights.

Interviewed by the Italian media, the chairs of the two main parliamentary groups, Fabrizio Cicchitto (PDL) and Dario Franceschini (PD) announced that the ratification of the Istanbul Convention would receive cross-party support.  Dario Franceschini added that his party would ask for it to be put on the agenda of the chamber as soon as possible, so that ratification can take place before the end of the legislature.

Programme

Speech by the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe (English, Italian)

Listen to some of the speeches on the Network’s facebook page

 

Strasbourg, 23 November 2012

A race for the right of women to live free from violence

Mr José Mendes Bota
Mr Mendes Bota


“Millions of women throughout the world live in fear and are denied the first human right, the right to live free from violence. Every effort should be made in order to protect these women. On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, I urge all member States of the Council of Europe to show their determination to prevent and combat violence against women by joining the race for ratification and making the Convention an effective and concrete tool to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence. Women living free from violence will be the winners of this race,” stated Mr Mendes Bota, General Rapporteur on Violence against Women of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

Statement by the General Rapporteur on Violence against Women of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

 

25 November 2012

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Mr José Mendes Bota

Members of the Parliamentary Network “Women Free from Violence” will be organising a round of events at national level, to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November), starting with Sarajevo (21 November) and Rome (22 November), and continuing with Brussels (30 November) and Lisbon (3 December). These events, addressed primarily to members of parliament, are aimed at promoting the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention). In Sarajevo, the Chairperson of the Gender Equality Committee of the parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Director of the Agency for Gender Equality and the General Rapporteur on violence against women of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will address participants. In Rome, the Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the Italian Minister for Social Affairs as well as the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs will address the audience. In Brussels, the Vice Prime Minister, who is also Minister of the Interior and of Equal Opportunities, and the President of the Senate will discuss future ratification by Belgium. In Lisbon, an international conference organised at the initiative of Mr Mendes Bota, General Rapporteur on violence against women of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, will focus on the added value of the Istanbul Convention and steps to be taken for ratification, with the participation of a Vice-President of parliament and the Chairperson of the Sub-Committee on Equality.

Parliamentary seminar in Sarajevo on 21 November 2012

Parliamentary seminar in Rome on 22 November 2012 (in Italian)

Parliamentary seminar in Brussels on 30 November 2012

International Conference in Lisboa on 3 December 2012

 

8 November 2012

Istanbul Convention: getting closer to entry into force

Ms Jozsefina Topalli and Mr José Mendes Bota
Ms Jozsefina Topalli and Mr José Mendes Bota

On 8 November 2012 the Albanian parliament completed the ratification of the Istanbul Convention. Mr Mendes Bota, General Rapporteur on violence against women of the Parliamentary Assembly and Political coordinator of the Parliamentary Network "Women Free from Violence", welcomed this news. 'I most warmly congratulate Ms Jozsefina Topalli for her outstanding commitment to the cause of women. When our Network met in Albania, only a few weeks ago, Ms Topalli promised that Parliament would speed up the ratification of the Convention and finalise it before the end of the year. She has kept her promise’.

This good news comes along with others: Netherlands signed the Convention on 14 November 2012 while the Portuguese government approved the ratification of the Convention which should very soon be ratified by the Parliament.

"This whole positive dynamic reassures me that the Convention should enter into force in 2013" concluded Mr Mendes Bota.

 

London, 18 October 2012

Calling for the ratification of the Istanbul Convention


“We all act at our respective levels to combat violence against women and domestic violence. It can be by providing direct assistance and support to victims, running helplines, securing funding for assistance services, implementing action plans, drafting legislation… but more can be done,” said PACE General Rapporteur on violence against women Mr Mendes Bota (Portugal, EPP/CD), speaking at the 14th Conference of the WAVE (Women against Violence in Europe) Network in London.

“More will be done once the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention) enters into force,” he added. “The efforts of the Parliamentary Assembly are now concentrated around the promotion of this Convention, a unique instrument and the most advanced international legal instrument in this field”.

“I call on all of you to be messengers for the Convention in your respective countries and to ask for its ratification so as to transform this text into a living instrument,” Mr Mendes Bota concluded.

Speech by Mr Mendes Bota

Conference programme

 

Strasbourg, 18 October 2012

Voluntary contribution of Germany to the Network

Mr Julius Georg Luy and Ms Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni

The agreement was signed on 18 October 2012 by Ambassador Julius Georg Luy, Permanent Representative of Germany to the Council of Europe and by Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe.

The Federal Foreign Office of the Federal Republic of Germany has made a voluntary contribution of € 32,500 to the Council of Europe towards the parliamentary dimension of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. This contribution will enable a number of parliamentary seminars to be organised to raise awareness of the Convention.

 

Strasbourg, 8 October 2012

“The Parliamentary Assembly plays a pioneering role in combating violence against women”, highlights UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon

Mr Ban Ki-Moon and Mr Jean-Claude Mignon
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon with Jean-Claude Mignon, PACE President

During a bilateral meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, organised on the margins of the World Forum for Democracy, PACE President Jean-Claude Mignon invited the Secretary General to address the Parliamentary Assembly at a forthcoming session.


“The Secretary General highlighted the pioneering role played by the Council of Europe, and more particularly the Parliamentary Assembly, in combating violence against women, including domestic violence. He was confident that thanks to the legal framework created by the Council of Europe, there would be rapid progress in this area. He also underlined the key role played by the Parliamentary Assembly in promoting human rights and non-discrimination,” the PACE President said.

The PACE President and the Secretary General also exchanged views on co-operation between the Council of Europe, the United Nations and the OSCE, and discussed the main topics debated at the last PACE part-session – the honouring of obligations and commitments by the Russian Federation and the humanitarian situation in Syria – the so-called “frozen” conflicts, the Arab spring and, more particularly, the Partner for Democracy status recently created by PACE.

 

Strasbourg, 4 October 2012

A strategy to campaign for the Istanbul Convention

Ms Battaini-Dragoni and Ms Tina Acketoft
Ms Battaini-Dragoni, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe and Ms Tina Acketoft, Chairperson of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination

"The Parliamentary Assembly and its Network "Women Free from Violence" provide an invaluable support in preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence", said Ms Gabriela Battaini-Dragoni, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, at the Network meeting on 4 October 2012 in Strasbourg. She encouraged parliamentarians to continue to actively promote the Istanbul Convention, a tool meant to change attitudes and mindsets, and welcomed the publication of the Handbook for parliamentarians. Network members also discussed a strategy to campaign for the Istanbul Convention, which included the translation of the Handbook and the participation in public debates and film festivals on human rights and combating violence against women. Around 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, several Network members plan the organisation of seminars on the Istanbul Convention in their national parliaments, in addition to a series of awareness-raising activities for the 16 days of activism against gender violence.

16 days of activism

 

Tirana, 18 September 2012

Conference on “Legislators to make freedom from violence a reality”

Conférence « Aux législateurs de faire du droit de vivre sans violence une réalité »

"Parliamentarians have a vital role to play in transforming mentalities and make freedom from violence a reality in their communities" said Ms Jozefina Topalli, Speaker of Parliament in Albania and a relentless advocate for the protection of women’s rights during the conference on "Legislators to make freedom from violence a reality" organised by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Network “Women Free from Violence” in Tirana, Albania on 14 september 2012.

In the presence of Ms Topalli and Ms Filloreta Kodra, Vice-Minister of Labour, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, a Handbook for parliamentarians, meant as a tool for the promotion of the Istanbul Convention and other international standards in combating violence against women, was officially launched. The speakers, namely Baroness Scotland, Ms Feride Acar and Ms Hilary Fischer, made extremely valuable contributions to the discussion on the role of parliamentarians and parliamentary networks in eradicating violence against women, stressing the need to pool ideas, efforts and resources in order to give parliamentary actions an effective impact.

“This conference has very good news to report. Belgium has just signed the Istanbul Convention and Albania is very much likely to ratify it in the coming months according to the commitment made by Ms Topalli during the conference. I am very confident the Convention will soon enter into force” declared Mr Mendes Bota, General Rapporteur on violence against women and Political coordinator of the Network.

Draft programme

Final declaration

 

Strasbourg, 11 July 2012

Combating and preventing violence against women in Morocco

Ms Bassima Hakkaoui and Mr Mendes Bota

Ms Bassima Hakkaoui, Mr Mendes Bota, Morocco, 9 July 2012

Combating and preventing violence against women and domestic violence should be at the top of the political agenda in Morocco” stated Mr Mendes Bota, General Rapporteur on violence against women, during his visit to Morocco on 9 July 2012.

After participating in the conference “A gender approach to development in the Mediterranean” in Tetouan on 7 July, the General Rapporteur went to Rabat where he held bilateral meetings with Ms Bassima Hakkaoui, Minister of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development, Mr Karim Ghellab, President of the Chambre des Représentants, Mr Mirdas, Chairperson of the Committee on Social Affairs at the Chambre des Représentants and Ms Jamila El Mossalli, member of the Chambre des Représentants and of the Parliamentary Network “Women Free from Violence”. He also held meetings with representatives of UN Women and of non-governmental organisations.

The General Rapporteur presented the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention), highlighting that the Convention was open to non-member States of the Council of Europe. Mr Mendes Bota looked forward to the development of future initiatives in this area. He also welcomed the existing cooperation in the framework of the status of partner of democracy and the readiness of the Moroccan authorities to discuss violence against women.


 

Strasbourg, 5 July 2012

The Ukrainian way to ratification of the Istanbul Convention


Ms Bodarenko

Ms Bodarenko, Ukraine, 7 June 2012

“I am convinced of the need for a speedy ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on prevention and combating violence against women and domestic violence by all member states of the Council of Europe, and in particular by Ukraine” said Ms Bondarenko, the Ukrainian member of the Network.
As head of the Subcommittee on international legal issues and gender policy of the Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on Human Rights, National Minorities and International Relations, Ms Bondarenko initiated a special roundtable entitled 'Preventing Violence: harmonisation of Ukrainian legislation with the Council of Europe standards' which took place on 7 June 2012 in Ukraine. The main purpose of the roundtable was to discuss effective ways to prompt legislative and executive powers to ratify the Convention as soon as possible.
The event was jointly organised by the Committee of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on Human Rights, National Minorities and International Relations, a Parliamentary Development Programme in Ukraine and NGOs such as the International Women's Rights Center 'La Strada-Ukraine' and the Information-consulting Women's Center.
Ukraine signed the Istanbul Convention on 7 November 2011. To date, 20 other countries have signed it. Turkey is the only country which has signed and ratified.

 

 

 

Strasbourg, 3 July 2012

Visit of the General Rapporteur on violence against women to Georgia

M. José Mendes Bota
Ms Bolognese, Mr Mendes Bota and Ms Kervalishvili, Tbilisi, 3 July 2012

Mr Mendes Bota (Portugal, EPP/CD), General Rapporteur on violence against women appointed by the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), visited Georgia on 2 and 3 July 2012. 

The main objective of the General Rapporteur’s visit was to promote the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention). According to the Rapporteur, Georgia was on a path towards the signature of the Convention and needed to be further encouraged so as to join the 21 Council of Europe member States which had already signed it (only one, Turkey, had signed and ratified).

On 2 and 3 July, Mr Mendes Bota had meetings with Ms Rusudan Kervalishvili, Deputy Chairperson of the Parliament of Georgia, Ms Tamar Martiashvili, First Deputy Minister for  Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees, Ms Lali Papiashvili, Chair of the State Inter-agency Council for the Prevention of Domestic Violence,   Ms Mari Meshki, Head of the State Fund for the Protection and Assistance to the Victims of Trafficking and Domestic Violence and high level representatives of the Ministries of Internal Affairs and Justice.

Mr Mendes Bota welcomed efforts undertaken by the Georgian authorities and civil society in preventing and combating violence against women and assured them of his support in his capacity as General Rapporteur.

 

Strasbourg, 28 June 2012

Hearing on marital rape

Mr José Mendes Bota

Marital rape

“Freeing women from violence also means protecting their right to say no”, said Mr Mendes Bota, General Rapporteur on violence against women and Political coordinator of the Network, concluding a hearing on marital rape organised by the Network on 28 June 2012.

It is wrong to believe that rape happens at night, in the streets, that it involves the use of a weapon, and that the victims always put up physical resistance. Reality is quite different, as explained by Professor Liz Kelly from the London Metropolitan University and Mr Gilles Lazimi, general practitioner and member of the Women’s Group against rape in France. In many cases, rape happens at home and is repeated over time. In France, one woman out of six has been subjected to rape during her life, 30% of whom at the hands of their husband or former partner. ‘There is a need for debate and national campaigns not only to raise awareness about this dramatic issue but also to save lives” stressed Mr Lazimi.

In the past, in most Council of Europe member states, legislation enshrined the concept of “conjugal rights” and rape in marriage was exempted from prosecution. Today, rape in marriage has become a criminal offence in the majority of European states, even if in some of them it is not treated in the same way as other kinds of rape in terms of procedure. The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, which opened for signature on 11 May 2011, calls on State parties to criminalise sexual violence, including rape (article 36).

Interview of Professor Liz Kelly

Interview of Mr Gilles Lazimi

 

Strasbourg, 8 June 2012

The United Kingdom signs the Istanbul Convention

Mr José Mendes Bota
Mr Mendes Bota, 8 June 2012

The United Kingdom signed the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence on 8 June 2012. As General Rapporteur on violence against women and Political Coordinator of the Network ‘Women Free from Violence’, Mr Mendes Bota welcomed this signature.

“Violence against women causes the death of hundreds of women every year and has dramatic consequences for the foundations of our societies as a whole. Therefore it is essentiel to reaffirm the determination of the Council of Europe members to eradicate this scourge by signing and ratifying the Istanbul Convention”.


Mr Mendes Bota insisted on the leading role of the members of the Parliamentary Network  to promote the Istanbul Convention on a large scale, by bringing the debate into national parliaments but also through awareness-raising activities towards the general public in close cooperation with local NGOs and associations working in the field.

Indeed, ”efforts must be pursued”, Mr Mendes Bota said, “in order to put the issue of violence against women high on Council of Europe member states’ agendas. In order to offer support to all women who need it, states must introduce effective procedures for prevention of violence, protection of the victims and prosecution of the perpetrators in their national legislations”.

“The signature of the Convention is a great first step that will make complete sense once followed by ratification. Only ratification can ensure the entry into force of the Istanbul Convention, a core instrument for the advancement of women rights in Europe” the General Rapporteur concluded.

To date there are 20 countries that have signed the Convention and one that has ratified.

Signatures and ratifications

Text of the Convention
 

Strasbourg, 5 June 2012

The Parliamentary Network opens to the Mediterranean

Mr Yatim, Mr Mendes Bota and Ms El Mossalli
Mr Yatim, Mr Mendes Bota and Ms El Mossalli, Strasbourg, 26 April 2012


Mr Sabella, Mr Mendes Bota, Ms Alastal and Mr Sulaiman
Mr Sabella, Mr Mendes Bota, Ms Alastal and Mr Sulaiman, Strasbourg, 26 April 2012

The Parliamentary Network Women Free from Violence opened to the Mediterranean and welcomed partners for democracy: both the Moroccan Parliament and the Palestinian National Council appointed members in May 2012.

Ms Najat Alastal, representative of the Palestinian National Council, and Ms Jamila El Mossalli, member of the Moroccan Parliament, officially joined the Network.

Mr Mendes Bota, General Rapporteur on violence against women and Political Coordinator of the Parliamentary Network, welcomed the new members and expressed his satisfaction at the prospect of joining forces with partners for democracy to combat violence against women and domestic violence.

When giving its opinions on the requests for partner for democracy status, the former Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men stressed that violence against women was a widespread and underreported phenomenon both in Morocco and in the Palestinian Territories and that a comprehensive effort should be made to raise awareness, amongst legislators as well as society at large, that violence against women is not acceptable. “I encourage the Moroccan and Palestinian authorities to increase their efforts in combating this scourge and I assure them that they can count on the support of the Parliamentary Network”, said Mr Mendes Bota.

The appointments of Ms Alastal and Ms El Mossalli followed official meetings held by the General Rapporteur with the two delegations during the April part-session of the Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg, during which Mr Mendes Bota presented the Convention of the Council of Europe on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence and the work of the Network.

Opinion of the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men on the Request for Partner for Democracy status with the Parliamentary Assembly submitted by the Parliament of Morocco

Opinion of the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men on the Request for Partner for Democracy status with the Parliamentary Assembly submitted by the Palestinian National Council

   

Strasbourg, 4 June 2012

Declaration on the urgency of introducing legislation on sexual harassment in France

At its meeting in Paris on 4 June, the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination expressed great appreciation for the commitment made by the French authorities to make the introduction of a new law on sexual harassment a priority and to ensure that a bill is placed on the agenda of parliament at the earliest opportunity following the June parliamentary election.

Link to the Declaration on sexual harassment

   

Strasbourg, 4 June 2012

Turkey: setbacks on women’s rights are not acceptable

At its meeting in Paris on 4 June 2012, the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination expressed deep concern at the announcement made by the Turkish Health Minister Recep Akdag that legislation outlawing abortion in all circumstances would be presented by the end of June. Such an announcement has been accompanied by statements from high government officials, including the Turkish Prime Minister, equating abortion with murder and identifying abortion and “elective caesareans” as the causes for the slow population growth in the country. 

Link to the Statement

   

Strasbourg, 25 April 2012

Police response to women victims of violence

Ms Maud de Boer-Buquicchio and Mr Mendes Bota
Ms Maud de Boer-Buquicchio and Mr Mendes Bota

The Parliamentary Network women free from violence met on 25 April in Strasbourg to discuss the police response to women victims of violence.  The meeting was chaired by Mr Mendes Bota (Portugal, EPP/CD), General rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on violence against women, and focused on best practices and the experience of Belgium, Croatia and France.

"Network members have to continue promoting the Istanbul Convention, since its entry into force will have direct implications on the protection and safety of victims" stressed Ms Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe. Combating violence against women will remain high on the political agenda and will be the main topic for the next session of the Commission on the Status of Women in 2013.

Ms Catherine Lemage, Psychologist at the Office for Police Assistance to Victims (Brussels) described the steps in the provision of assistance to victims of violence and explained why victims at times choose not to report violence, being afraid of the consequences and having lost their self-esteem. "The police has a crucial role to play as a first provider of assistance and with a view to provide reparation to the victims", she said.

Mr Christian Binetruy, Honorary police commander at Departmental Directorate of Public Safety (Bas-Rhin, France), presented the "point accueil victimes", which welcomes victims and provides them with advice and guidance. He recommended the organisation of specific training on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence for all police officers, as already done in France.

According to Ms Karmela Martinović-Grčić, Head of the Juvenile Delinquency Department of the Osječko-baranjska County Police Department (Croatia), "efficient cooperation between police services and civil society organisations is essential for an effective and comprehensive response to violence against women".

Statistics on violence against women in France in 2010

Protocol for domestic violence cases in the Republic of Croatia

Accueil par la police des femmes victimes de violence (French only)

 

Strasbourg, 26 January 2012

Parliamentarians committed to promoting the Istanbul Convention

Mr José Mendes Bota
Mr José Mendes Bota

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe reiterated its commitment to combating violence against women by adopting a resolution on Promoting the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) prepared by Mr Mendes Bota (Portugal, EPP/CD) on 26 January 2012 in Strasbourg.

In his report, Mr Mendes Bota stresses that the Istanbul Convention is an  instrument unique in the world with a strong emphasis on victims’ protection, high standards in the area of prosecution, a holistic approach including prevention and integrated policies and a strong, independent and innovative monitoring mechanism. The Istanbul Convention recognises that freedom from violence is a fundamental human right, without which the other rights are bound to be flouted. It makes clear that violence against women is not a private matter but one which engages the public interest. In his report, Mr Mendes Bota asks the members of the Network of contact parliamentarians committed to combating violence against women to mobilise in order to ask questions to their governments as regards steps being taken towards signature of the Convention; organise or promote parliamentary debates and hearings on the Convention; play a pro-active role in the context of the ratification process and conduct activities to raise awareness about the Convention amongst the general public, practitioners, non-governmental organisations and civil society.

His recommendations include the appointment of a coordinator of the Network, an Assembly General Rapporteur on violence against women and a Council of Europe Special Envoy on gender equality. The promotion of the signature and ratification of the Convention by the broadest number of states and within the shortest delay is a priority so that the Convention can enter into force and have a real impact on the lives of millions of victims.

Video interview of Mr Mendes Bota

Resolution 1861 (2012)

 

Strasbourg, 25 January 2012

A new name for the Network: "Parliamentary Network women free from violence"

Confirming the Standing Committee's declaration on 25 November 2011 "Freedom from violence should be the first human right", the Network recalled that living without violence should be a right. It thus decided to give itself a new name: "Parliamentary Network women free from violence".

 

Ms Jacqueline Thibault
Ms Jacqueline Thibault

Network meeting on 25 January 2012 in Strasbourg

Zero tolerance for so-called “honour crimes”

“Governments must apply zero tolerance to so-called ‘honour crimes’, which must be punished by exemplary sentences to show total rejection of this practice”, said Jacqueline Thibault, President of the Foundation ‘Surgir’ (Switzerland), speaking at a hearing organised by the PACE network of contact parliamentarians committed to combating violence against women, opened by José Mendes Bota (Portugal, EPP/CD). “Europe is likely to be increasingly confronted with this problem because of migratory movements”, she added, while reviewing the situation in eight European countries, only four of which currently have national plans in operation.


Hannana Siddiqui, Policy and Research Officer at the NGO Southall Black Sisters (United Kingdom), described the situation in the United Kingdom, where, according to police estimates, twelve women and girls are victims of “honour crimes” every year. Rising religious fundamentalism and a growing tendency for minority communities to assert their distinctive identities have increased pressure on women belonging to those communities. Ms Siddiqui also outlined the strategies adopted by the public authorities to combat this threat.

Ms Liri Kopaçi-Di Michele, Head of Division in the Council of Europe’s Justice and Human Dignity Directorate, discussed so-called “honour crimes” in the light of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention). “The drafters of the Convention did not make these acts a separate criminal offence but agreed to prohibit all attempts to justify them on the basis of culture, custom, religion or tradition”, she said.

Agenda

Video interview of Ms Siddiqui and Ms Thibault

   

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