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Latest news | MP signs open letter urging UK Government to ratify Istanbul Convention

Latest news

MP signs open letter urging UK Government to ratify Istanbul Convention

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
Dr Dubravka Simonovic, UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women
Jeremy Corbyn MP, Leader of the Labour Party
Tim Farron MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats
Caroline Lucas MP, Leader of the Green Party
Nick Clegg MP, former Deputy Prime Minister
Lisa Gormley, Centre for Women, Peace and Security, London School of Economics
Dr Keina Yoshida, barrister Doughty Street Chambers and Advisory Board Member, Centre for Women, Peace and Security, London School of Economics
Dr Susan Atkins, Advisory Board, Centre for Women, Peace and Security, London School of Economics
Laura Bates, Everyday Sexism Project
Polly Neate, CEO, Women's Aid Federation of England
Marsha Scott, Scottish Women's Aid
Jan Melia, Women's Aid Federation Northern Ireland
Jane Connors, Director International Advocacy Programme, Amnesty International
Kate Allen, Director, Amnesty International UK
Alison Gordon, Executive Director, Sisters For Change
Nimco Ali, Daughters of Eve
Peter Grant, Co-director, Restored
Lucy-Ann Holmes, No More Page Three
Laura Bates, Everyday Sexism Project
Sarah Green, Co-director, End Violence Against Women Coalition
Pragna Patel, Director, Southall Black Sisters
Harriet Wistrich, Founder, Centre for Women’s Justice
Jane Gordon, Founder, Sisters for Change
Andrea Coomber, Director of Justice
Professor Clare McGlynn, Durham Law School
Becca Bunce, IC Change
Rachel Nye, IC Change
Robyn Boosey, IC Change
Baroness Mary Goudie
Jess Phillips MP
Tim Brake MP
Alistair Carmichael MP
Norman Lamb MP
Greg Mulholland MP
John Pugh MP
Mark Williams MP
Sarah Olney, incoming MP
Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP
Angus Robertson MP, Leader of the SNP Westminster Group
Gavin Newlands MP
Mhairi Black MP
Angela Crawley MP
Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh MP
Kirsten Oswald MP
Chris Law MP
Martyn Day MP
Drew Hendry MP
George Kerevan MP
Hannah Bardell MP
Alan Brown MP
Margaret Ferrier MP
Patrick Grady MP
John McNally MP
Owen Thompson MP
Carol Monaghan MP
Mike Weir MP
Callum McCaig MP
Tommy Sheppard MP
Stephen Gethins MP
Peter Grant MP
Patricia Gibson MP
Steven Paterson MP
John Nicolson MP
Pete Wishart MP
Deirdre Brock MP
Kirsty Blackman MP
Neil Gray MP
Ian Blackford MP
Marion Fellows MP
Anne McLaughlin MP
Philippa Whitford MP
Richard Arkless MP
Stuart McDonald MP
Stewart McDonald MP
Alison Thewliss MP
Lisa Cameron MP
Calum Kerr MP

Sophie Walker, leader of the Women’s Equality Party

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