A ‘feasibility study’ is now underway in the United Kingdom on the impact of ratifying a Council of Europe ‘women’s safety’ treaty.
A report published today by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office confirms that the government hopes to complete the investigation and announce its decision on the convention before the year closes.
The report states: “Tackling violence against women and domestic violence is a priority for the Government and central to our work to promote gender equality and empower women.
“Although we broadly support and welcome the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, we continue to have some difficulties with certain articles which would require a significant change in Government policy and/or legislative reform in the UK.
“ In order to make a final decision on the Government’s position, the Home Office has written to all Government departments to ask for more detailed information on the implications, including financial, of signing and ratifying the Convention.
“The Government hopes to be in a position to announce its final decision by the end of the year.”
The Council of Europe’s ‘Convention on Preventing And Combating Violence Against Women And Domestic Violence’ is described by Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland as “an international instrument allowing us to make a difference.” It has, so far, been signed by 16 member states.
The treaty is designed to help governments in the prevention of violence towards women, the protection of victims and the prosecution of offenders. Ratification of the treaty will lead to immediate action to criminalise and prosecute a range of offences: rape, domestic violence, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, sexual harassment, forced abortion and forced sterilisation. The convention also denies the excuse of violence towards women on grounds of culture, custom, religion or so-called “honour.”
Governments will also be expected to set up or fund adequate services, including shelters, 24-hour help-lines and medical and legal counseling that are vital to women fleeing violent partners.
Information: Foreign Secretary William Hague’s response to Foreign Affairs Committee report on human rights
Background: ‘A milestone in the fight for gender equality’
News: Jagland - Seven women are beaten to death every day in Europe