Committing to eliminating violence against women – Time to match words with deeds
Nearly two years ago, the TUC welcomed the news that the Government had finally signed up to the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention (previously known as CAHVIO). Signing up to the Convention was an important step but, without ratifying the Convention, it’s all but meaningless.
The UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (a bit of a mouthful – let’s just call it UNIDEVAW) seems like a fitting day to call on the UK Government to ratify the Convention that they signed almost two years ago. UNIDEVAW has been marked on 25th November since 1981 and was originally organised as commemoration of the assassination of three political activists, the Mirabal sisters, in the Dominican Republic in 1961.
Just to recap, by ratifying the Istanbul Convention the government would be committing to redoubling its efforts in the elimination of violence against women. Compared to some of the countries which have already ratified (naming no names), the UK actually has a pretty good track record on policies to prevent and criminalise violence against women. It takes decades to build up a strong network of refuges and other support and advocacy services but all of that can be swept away in a matter of a few years without political support and funding.
At a time when women’s refuges have seen 31% cuts in local authority funding and according to the Women’s Aid 2011-12 survey, refuges are having to turn away an average of 180 women a day due to a lack of beds, this Convention would serve one particularly important function – it would oblige our Government to adequately funding the work of charities in the domestic violence sector. Not just the well known, generalist charities, but the specialist services which we know have been all but destroyed by cuts to local authority funding streams.
The Istanbul Convention is not just about protecting services. It is also about tackling a misogynistic and sexist culture which is inextricably linked to violence against women and it calls for all signatories to put in place laws which give adequate remedies against the perpetrators of violence against women.
The TUC and Women’s Aid believe that the UK Government should be able to take a lead on tackling violence against women. So what’s stopping the government from ratifying?
When the UN officially designated 25th November as a day of action to eliminate violence against women, the then Executive Director of the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) said:
“We need to say, “No more and never again”. If we commit ourselves to creating a world free from violence against women and girls, our children will say we stopped the most universal and unpunished crime of all time against half the people of the earth.”
Let’s show our commitment by ratifying this important Convention.
If you want the government to take a stand against violence against women, please sign our petition.