Stewart McDonald MP has joined activists, human rights lawyers and fellow politicians in signing an open letter ahead of a major vote in the House of Commons that would enshrine the Istanbul Convention, against domestic violence, into UK law.
The full letter to the British Government released ahead of SNP MP Eilidh Whiteford's Private Member’s Bill on the Istanbul Convention reads:
We are faced with a unique opportunity to #ChangeHerstory and help end gender-based violence in the UK.
The Istanbul Convention is a historic international treaty which makes governments legally bound to prevent gender-based violence. It recognises that women’s rights are human rights and commits governments to take violence against women seriously.
The UK Government signed the Convention in 2012, yet in the four years since it has failed to ratify it. Until it is ratified, the convention remains just a piece of paper and fails to protect women and girls.
Every hour of every day, the police receive over 100 calls about domestic abuse. On average, two women are killed by their current or former partner every week in England and Wales. Women and girls in the UK need their Government to take this issue seriously and act now.
Ratifying the convention would mean:
- Survivors of domestic violence are entitled to specialist services and support such as refuges and shelters
- Survivors of abuse are entitled to psychological support
- 24 hour helplines are available for all forms of violence against women
- Robust data monitoring gender-based violence is collected
- Education is given in schools on issues such as gender equality and violence against women and girls
Gender-based violence can take many forms including FGM, so-called Honour Based Violence, child marriage, domestic abuse and sexual abuse, which are recognised by the Istanbul Convention. It primarily affects women but can also affect men and non-binary people.
On Friday 16 December, the Government has a unique opportunity to show its commitment to preventing gender-based violence. MPs can lend their power to ratification of the Istanbul Convention by supporting the second reading of the Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence Bill as it goes before parliament.
This Bill has cross-party support, and is backed by organisations across the women’s sector, including Rape Crisis, Women’s Aid, Scottish Women’s Aid, Welsh Women’s Aid, Women’s Aid Federation Northern Ireland, Southall Black Sisters, FORWARD and Everyday Sexism.
We ask MPs to take this opportunity to show their commitment to a world without gender-based violence and to vote to ratify the Istanbul Convention.
Yours sincerely,Emma Watson, UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador
Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party