Sexual violence and harassment of women: wave of testimonies only tip of the iceberg

“Sexual harassment, rape and domestic abuse of women are the relics of a society based on historically unequal power relations between women and men. It is high time for shame and fear to switch sides,” PACE President Stella Kyriakides said today urging women to lift the taboo and speak out.

“Over the last months, we have seen an unprecedented wave of testimonies which we know are only the tip of the iceberg. No woman is immune to violence. It can affect us at any age, whatever our origin, citizenship or social background, in any country,” she stressed.

“The upcoming ‘International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women’ on 25 November is an opportunity for all MPs to make a plea for a zero tolerance policy towards any form of violence and to end impunity. It is high time for perpetrators to be brought to justice, named and shamed. To this end, we must continue to relentlessly promote the ratification and implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence – the so-called Istanbul Convention in our national parliaments,” the PACE President concluded.

“As parliamentarians, it is our responsibility not only to make sure that all victims of gender-based violence receive all the support they need but also to step up actions to encourage victims to file complaints and prevent violence, including within our parliaments”, PACE General Rapporteur on violence against women Gülsün Bilgehan (Turkey,SOC) stressed, adding her voice to the President of the Assembly on this occasion. “I therefore welcome the upcoming conduct of a regional research on sexism, harassment and violence against women in parliaments in Europe by the Interparliamentary Union (IPU) and PACE, which will start in January 2018”, she continued. “I hope this study will contribute to lift barriers of shame in our parliaments and support the victims in their rehabilitation processes. ‘No’ means ‘no’, regardless of the context, the location or the perpetrator,” Ms Bilgehan concluded.

***

In June 2017, PACE adopted a resolution on sexual violence and harassment of women in public space on the basis of a report by Françoise Hetto-Gaasch (Luxembourg, EPP/CD).

In an earlier resolution, adopted in November 2015, PACE draw up a list of best practices in tackling violence against women urging member states to take action.