On Monday 29 March 2021, the EU Delegation invited five protagonists in the strive to end violence against women to discuss the impact that the Istanbul Convention has had for women across Europe. This Convention is widely recognised as the most far-reaching legally binding instrument to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence as a violation of human rights and the EU is committed to work hand in hand with the Council of Europe in this field.
The first panellist to take the floor was Dr Iris Luarasi, First Vice-President of the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO)), the independent expert body responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Istanbul Convention. Starting on a positive note, Dr Luarasi shed light on the constructive developments monitored by GREVIO, noting inter alia changes in legislation against femicide in France and Sweden, but also referring to the centres for victims of domestic violence that GREVIO has helped put into place in Turkey. Finally, she condemned statements promoting national law over the Convention, the Turkish withdrawal being an extreme manifestation thereof. Recalling the Convention’s four pillars of prevention, protection, prosecution and policy-coordination, she concluded by underlining that the #IstanbulConventionSavesLives.
From the Cabinet of Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli, Ms Ingrid Bellander Todino presented the EU’s work and approach on the issue. After reiterating that the Convention is a golden standard for the protection of women in Europe, Ms Todino informed the attendees of the recent Opinion of the Advocate General on the EU’s accession to the Convention, in expectation of a clear-cut Opinion of the Court of Justice thereon as soon as this summer. Finally, with the aim of feeding the Strategy on Gender Equality, she promoted the Commission’s public consultation on tackling violence against women and domestic violence – which we encourage all to complete before May 10. The Strategy pursues a comprehensive legal framework in the EU, in accordance with the four pillars of the Istanbul Convention.
Ms Pia Puu-Oksanen, from Amnesty Finland and Ms Irena Shtraza, from the Albanian Women Empowerment Network (AWEN) represented civil society across Europe by elaborating on the positive developments in their respective countries since the Convention’s inception. Finally, Ms Aslihan Tekin, from the Women’s Coalition Turkey and European Women’s Lobby, urged Turkey, as first signatory of the Convention, to reverse the withdrawal decision as it is a pushback for women rights and human rights for all. She also called upon (EU) member states to enter intro dialogue with Turkey in this regard, within the existing political and legal framework. Ending on a positive note, after pledging her continued effort in combatting violence against women, she stressed that the resilience of women around the globe is now an irreversible fact and that we all stand stronger today.