Ekklesia backs Bill to combat violence against women
Ekklesia has been working hard to get MPs from all parties to attend the House of Commons on 16 December 2016 and to vote for Eilidh Whiteford MP's Private Members Bill to ratify the Istanbul Convention, backing local and global action to end violence against women.
The initiative has also been supported by faith leaders of different traditions. The current situation is that the UK has signed the convention, but has not ratified it – the process by which it would be written into law here.
We have contacted the Leader of the Opposition and other members of the Westminster Parliament to seek to encourage as many MPs as possible to turn up to back the Bill. At least one hundred are needed.
As the IC Campaign makes clear:
This change is substantial. It is the first time in the UK that violence against women will be seen as a whole in law. The Istanbul Convention provides a clear framework for change across multiple issues; from FGM to rape, forced marriage to psychological violence, stalking to consent. However, it is not simply amending one issue. Rather, the Istanbul Convention recognises violence against women as more than individual issues, but instead a wider epidemic of violence and ensures a co-ordinated response.
The change is along a pathway. The Istanbul Convention starts with the prevention of violence, moving onto protecting women and girls who are experiencing violence, through to prosecution of violence. It also ensures that vital data on violence against women is collected and responded to.
The change is practical. Some of the practical responses that the Istanbul Convention ensures are:
- An adequate number of refuges, including specialist services.
- Sufficient provision of rape crisis or sexual violence referral centres
- Psychological support for victims of violence
- Free 24/7 helplines for all forms of violence
- Education in schools on topics such as violence against women and girls, equality between men and women, the right to personal integrity, and healthy relationships
The change is happening. Some changes have already happened, with the UK Government criminalising female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriage and psychological abuse in order to comply with the Istanbul Convention.
The change is needed. However, some change is not enough. We need ALL of the changes set out in the Istanbul Convention to tackle violence against women in the UK. We need the full infrastructure set out to allow women to thrive, rather than fight to survive.
* Find out more about the Convention and the campaign here.
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