ZAGREB, March 7, 2019 – Council of Europe Secretary-General Thorbjorn Jagland said on the occasion of International Women’s Day, March 8, that vital goals were being achieved to end violence against women but that more progress was needed. In that context, he commended Croatia for ratifying the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
“The Istanbul Convention requires criminalising and legally sanctioning different forms of violence against women, including domestic violence, stalking, sexual harassment and psychological violence,” Jagland said but noted that despite the progress, there were still problems concerning its ratification in some countries.
“In some cases, such as Bulgaria, ratification has been blocked due to concerns and misconceptions over the term ‘gender’. However, I believe such misinterpretations can be clarified if the correct information is duly provided and there is the political will to do so, for example in Croatia, which ratified the Istanbul Convention in June last year,” said Jagland.
“Azerbaijan and Russia still have not signed our treaty. And 11 Council of Europe member states – Armenia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Hungary, Moldova, the Slovak Republic, Ukraine and the UK – have signed, but not yet ratified,” Jagland said, noting that monitoring the countries that have ratified the convention was important for ensuring compliance with its guidelines.
“Our Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) regularly goes on location to research how member states live up to convention requirements. Through GREVIO, we reinforce both cooperation with member states and identify areas for improvement.
“Earlier this year for example, GREVIO recognised progress in a report published about Portugal, which has developed comprehensive policies and preventive measures, especially to promote gender equality and combat gender stereotypes. In Sweden, GREVIO highlighted numerous legislative and policy measures adopted over the past 40 years that clearly demonstrate this member state’s commitment to prevent and combat violence against women,” the Council of Europe head said but noted that despite the progress, there was no room for complacency.
“We must continue to fight for ratification in all Council of Europe member states because women and girls cannot be deprived of their most basic human right: a life free from violence,” he said, urging all member states to ratify without delay the Istanbul Convention.
More news on the Istanbul Convention ratification can be found in the Politics section.