Council of Europe and UN figures call for EU action against domestic violence

Strasbourg, 15.06.2011 – Representatives from the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) and the United Nations have called on all 27 member states of the European Union – and the EU itself – to sign up to the groundbreaking new Council of Europe Convention on Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.

José Mendes Bota, Chair of PACE’s Equal Opportunities Committee, said: “Violence against women is a human rights violation born out of unequal power relations between women and men. This convention is a crucial landmark on the way towards ensuring equal enjoyment of human rights, and I urge all those European countries which have not yet done so to become parties to it, so that its great potential can be fully exploited.”

Rashida Manjoo, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, said: “Violence against women remains the most pervasive human rights violation that exists. This convention represents the most comprehensive response at the European regional level, paving the way for the protection of, assistance to, and justice for victims of violence against women. It deserves the full support of the European Union and all its member states.

The convention should inform ongoing efforts to develop EU legislation to protect women victims of violence, in particular domestic violence, such as the directive on the protection of the rights of victims of crime. Sexual violence is just one aspect of domestic violence. All the dark corners of domestic violence should be effectively addressed and combated with the same strength, and the victims equally protected.”


Background

• Council of Europe figures suggests that Some 20-25 per cent of women in Europe have experienced physical violence at least once during their adult lives. More than 10 per cent have suffered sexual violence involving the use of force, and figures for all forms of violence, including stalking, are as high as 45 per cent.

• The convention is the most comprehensive legally-binding international treaty in this area to date. It commits governments to creating a zero tolerance zone through:
o Prevention (awareness-raising, training professionals in contact with victims and providing treatment programmes for perpetrators)
o Protection of victims (providing sufficient shelters, free telephone hotlines and specialised support services for victims and their families)
o Prosecution of offenders (criminalising physical and psychological violence, stalking, sexual violence, sexual harassment, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, forced abortion and forced sterilisation)

• The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence was opened for signature last month. Of the 27 EU member states, it has so far been signed by only 10 (Austria, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden), as well as three Council of Europe member states that are not members of the EU (Iceland, Montenegro and Turkey).

Please note that Rashida Manjoo and José Mendes Bota will be taking part in a press conference – organised by Eva-Britt Svensson, Chair of the European Parliament Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality – at 12.30 pm on Wednesday 15 June in the European Parliament’s press conference room Anna Politkovskaya PHS 0A50.

Contact:

Strasbourg: PACE Communication Division, angus.macdonald@coe.int,
tel. +33 3 88 41 34 39.