2013: a turning point in combating violence against women

Strasbourg, 22.11.2013 – “2013 will prove to have been a turning point in combating violence against women,” said José Mendes Bota (Portugal, EPP/CD) in Vienna today at the meeting of the Standing Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November).

“The interaction between the pressure created by the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and the debate over the signature and ratification of the Istanbul Convention is starting to make a breach in the wall,” he added. “This is clear from the increased attention that politicians are devoting to violence against women, the number of NGO and civil society initiatives, and the visibility that it has had in the media.”

In the light of this positive momentum, the PACE Standing Committee, examining Mr Mendes Bota’s report, stated that “no efforts should be spared to achieve the 10 ratifications that are necessary for the entry into force of the Convention by the end of 2013” and underlined the crucial role played by parliamentarians in this context, in particular through the Parliamentary Network “Women free from Violence”.

The parliamentarians recalled that the Istanbul Convention was the most comprehensive international, legally binding instrument for the prevention of violence against women.

To take the example of stalking, which affects almost 10% of the population of Europe – mainly women – the Convention requires States Parties to establish a specific criminal offence for it, which is not currently the case in most Council of Europe member States. In this connection, the resolution adopted today by the Standing Committee, on the basis of the report by Gisela Wurm (Austria, SOC), proposes a series of measures to raise awareness among legislators, the police and the general public of the question of stalking, including cyber-stalking – the persistent and threatening intrusion online – and to develop support services for victims.

More generally, PACE recommended that the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers contribute to strengthening the national legal and policy frameworks in the area of violence against women, by providing legal advice and expertise on draft legislation