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Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence

  6/26/2012
Summary:Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence

The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) is a Council of Europe convention against violence against women and domestic violence which was opened for signature on May 11, 2011, in Istanbul, Turkey. The conventions aims at prevention of violence, victim protection and "to end with the impunity of perpetrators".[1] As of April 2012, it has been signed by 19 countries and on 12 March 2012 Turkey has become the first country to ratify the Convention.

During the later stage of drafting of the convention, UK, Italy, Russia and the Holy See have proposed several amendments to limit the requirements provided by the Convention. These amendments have been criticized by Amnesty International.[2]

Contents

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[edit] Key of the Convention

At the Preamble, European Convention on Human Rights, European Social Charter and Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings as well as international human rights treaties by United Nations and Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court are recalled. And at Article 2, this Convention shall apply in time of peace and also in situations of armed conflicts against violence against women and domestic violence. And Article 3 provides their definitions stating: "violence against women" is understood as a violence of human rights and a form of discrimination against women and shall mean all acts of gender-based violation that result in, or are likely to result in physical, sexual, psychological, or economic harm or suffering to women including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life, and "domestic violence" shall mean all acts of physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence that occur with the family or domestic unit or between former or current spouses or partners, whether or not the perpetrator shares or has shared the same residence with the victim.

And Article 4 prohibits all kinds of discrimination stating: The implementation of the provisions of this Convention by the Parties, in particular measure to protect the rights of victims, shall be secured without discrimination on any ground such as sex, gender, race, colour, language political or other opinion, national or social origine, association with a national minority, property, birth, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, state of health, disability, marial states, migrant or refugee status, or other status.

[edit] Historical background

The Council of Europe has undertaken a series of initiatives to promote the protection of women against violence since the 1990s. In particular, these initiatives have resulted in the adoption, in 2002, of the Council of Europe Recommendation Rec(2002)5 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the protection of women against violence,[3] and the running of a Europe-wide campaign, from 2006-2008, to combat violence against women, including domestic violence.[4] The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly has also taken a firm political stance against all forms of violence against women. It has adopted a number of resolutions and recommendations calling for legally-binding standards on preventing, protecting against and prosecuting the most severe and widespread forms of gender-based violence.

National reports, studies and surveys revealed the magnitude of the problem in Europe. The campaign in particular showed a large variation in Europe of national responses to violence against women and domestic violence. Thus the need for harmonised legal standards to ensure that victims benefit from the same level of protection everywhere in Europe became apparent. The Ministers of Justice of Council of Europe member states began discussing the need to step up protection from domestic violence, in particular intimate partner violence.

Assuming its leading role in human rights protection, the Council of Europe decided it was necessary to set comprehensive standards to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence. In December 2008, the Committee of Ministers set up an expert group mandated to prepare a draft convention in this field. Over the course of just over two years, this group, called the CAHVIO (Ad Hoc Committee for preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence),[5] worked out a draft text. It finalised the draft of the Convention in December 2010.

The Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence was adopted by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers on 7 April 2011. It opened for signature on 11 May 2011 on the occasion of the 121st Session of the Committee of Ministers in Istanbul. It will enter into force following 10 ratifications, 8 of which must be member statesof the Council of Europe.

[edit] Specific features of the Convention

The Istanbul Convention is the first legally-binding instrument to recognise violence against women as a violation of human rights and a form of discrimination (Art.3(a)). States that have ratified the Convention are legally-bound by its provisions once it enters into force. If they fail to excercice due diligence when preventing violence, protecting victims and prosecuting perpetrators then they will be in violation of the Convention (Art. 5). The Convention is also the first international treaty to contain a definition of gender. For the purpose of the Convention gender is defined in Article 3(c) as "the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for women and men". Moreover,the treaty establishes a series of offences that fall under the umbrella of what constitutes violence against women. States will be legally bound to include these in their penal codes or in other forms of legislation shall these offences not already exist in their legal systems. The offences established by the Convention include: psychological violence (Art.33); stalking (Art.34); physical violence (Art.35); sexual violence, including rape (Art.36), forced marriage (Art.37); female genital mutilation (Art.38), forced abortion and forced sterilisation (Art.39); and sexual harassment (Art.40). Parties to the Convention may chose whether on not they wish to criminalise or subject to other legal sanction the following offences: psychological violence, stalking and sexual harassment. The Convention also includes an article targeting crimes committed in the name of so-called "honour" (Art. 42).[6]

[edit] Structure of the Convention

The Istanbul Convention contains 81 articles separated into 12 chapters. Its structure follows the structure of the Council of Europe’s most recent conventions. The structure of the instrument is based on what have been identified as the “four Ps”: Prevention, Protection of victims, Prosecution of offenders and Integrated Policies. Each area foresees a series of specific measures.[7]






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