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Istanbul Convention on violence against women enters effect in 11 Council of Europe states

Governments commit to stem tide of domestic violence, forced marriage and sterilisation, stalking, FGM and 'honour' crimes

The Council of Europe introduced new steps to combat violence against women yesterday.

Fourteen European states committed themselves to progressing the fight against violence following the signature of the Istanbul Convention.

The convention came into force in 11 member states — Turkey, Albania, Italy, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Austria, Andorra, Spain and Denmark — but they will be joined by France, Sweden and Malta in November.

“Violence against women remains one of the most widespread human rights violations which take place every day in Europe,” said council commissioner for human rights Nils Muiznieks.

The convention obliges participating governments to take measures to counter domestic violence, forced marriage, stalking and sexual violence.

At least 12 women are killed in gender-related violence across Europe every day, according to the council. 

And in 2013, domestic violence claimed the lives of 121 women in France, 134 in Italy and 143 in Britain, according to national statistics.

The convention also targets female genital mutilation, forced abortion and forced sterilisation, sexual harassment and “honour” crimes.

Signatories must “ensure victims have access to services facilitating their recovery from violence” including legal and psychological counselling, financial assistance, housing, education, training and assistance in finding employment.

They must also “provide appropriate, easily accessible shelters in sufficient numbers to provide safe accommodation for victims, especially women and their children.”

Independent experts will monitor participating governments’ compliance.

Another 22 nations in the 47-member Council of Europe have signed the convention but not yet ratified it, while 11 have ignored it.

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