I was happy to join other MPs in showing support for The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (known as the Istanbul Convention). This legislation requires the UK to take measures to prevent violence against women, protect women experiencing violence, and prosecute perpetrators.
The Istanbul Convention Parliamentary lobby was an event run by the IC Change campaign, a campaign for ratification of the Istanbul Convention, which raised awareness about the Convention’s importance and where MPs heard from survivors. The campaign aims to secure the ratification of the Istanbul Convention (IC) in the UK.
Research states that on average, two women in England and Wales are killed every week by a current or former male partner. In Scotland in 2014/15, 1,797 rapes and 104 attempted rapes and 59,882 incidents of domestic abuse were recorded by the police. In Northern Ireland in 2014-15 there were 2,734 sexual offences recorded, including 737 offences of rape, and 13,426 domestic abuse crimes were reported (approximately 13% of the overall crime in Northern Ireland).
The UK Government signed the Istanbul Convention on 8 June 2012. However, progress has stalled on ratifying the Convention. This is in spite of the Government’s ongoing commitment, and indeed the personal commitment of the Prime Minister- Theresa May, to ratification. Delays have been cited as resulting from the requirements under Article 44 relating to extraterritorial application and the devolved administrations.
I am extremely concerned that the most recent Government strategy on ending violence against women and girls, in place from 2016 – 2020, omits any mention of the Istanbul Convention. My colleagues and I will be pressuring the Government to ratify as soon as possible.