Istanbul Convention on Preventing Violence against Women Divides Croatian MPs

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Croatia signed the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence in 2013 but has still not ratified it.

The Council of Europe’s Convention on the prevention and combating of violence against women and domestic violence, known as the Istanbul Convention, has divided members of Croatian Parliament. As expected, the ratification is supported by MPs from the left, while rightwing members are against it. Surprisingly, MPs from HDZ are also divided, although the party president and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has announced that Croatia would ratify this convention by the end of the year, reports Večernji List on September 19, 2017.

Ratification has also been included in the government’s annual legislative plan and has already passed the public consultation process. When the European Parliament voted on a resolution calling on the EU member states to ratify the convention, of HDZ’s MEPs only Dubravka Šuica and Željana Zovko voted for the Convention, while Ivica Tolić, who entered the European Parliament as a substitute for Plenković, voted against, and Ivana Maletić abstained from voting. She explained her abstention with sections of the Convention which introduce the so-called gender ideology.

“The Council of Europe says it does not want to impose a new worldview, but we see that in most states the Church, including the Vatican, have warned against certain definitions which do define worldview, especially when it comes to the impact of the convention on education and the way it will be presented to the public,” said Maletić. She added she needed more time to assess the real intentions of the convention. Just like conservative associations and the Church, Maletić is especially critical towards the definition of gender in the Convention.

“An additional reason is the resolution by which the European Parliament has called for the ratification of the Convention, because it talks about abortion as a woman’s right to make decisions about her body, which exposes its true intent,” said Maletić, adding that she did not question the right to abortion, but that women should be aware of the importance of that decision.

The government formally launched the process of ratification of the Istanbul Convention in July, when it submitted the ratification law to the public consultation procedure. Still, Maletić believes that Croatia should not rush to ratify the document.

“I think it is better for Croatia not to ratify this document. In our legislation, we have well-regulated provisions on the prevention of violence against women, but as in many other areas, there is a problem in applying the law,” said Maletić. She also noted that the HDZ presidency had not yet discussed the Convention. “We will have to talk about this,” said Maletić, and her position is shared by some other HDZ members, even some MPs, who will ultimately decide on the ratification.

“I would personally be against the ratification of the Istanbul Convention. Be assured that I would not be the only one,” said one of HDZ’s MPs who is a member of the party leadership. However, he is convinced that the government will change its mind and that the Convention will not even be submitted to a vote.

The Convention was signed in 2013 by then Prime Minister Zoran Milanović (SDP), and its ratification is supported by NGOs dealing with women’s rights, convinced that the document would reduce the number of women who are victims of violence, which increased by 184 percent between 2013 and 2015.

Translated from Večernji List.


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