Campaigners welcome MPs’ backing to ratify Istanbul Convention despite shameful filibustering from Tory Davies. By FELICITY COLLIER
A PACKAGE of proposals to end violence against women cleared its first Commons hurdle yesterday despite a Tory “filibuster” attempt to stall it.
The Istanbul Convention, which offers greater legal protection and support for women who are victims of domestic abuse, had faced fierce opposition from Tory MP Philip Davies, who claimed it was “sexist.”
Mr Davies argued for over an hour, provoking allegations of filibustering. Even some of his fellow Tory MPs questioned his position.
On a previous occasion, he called for Parliament to recognise International Men’s Day.
Campaigners welcomed the progress of the Bill, as the government had been criticised for consigning the Istanbul Convention to “the bottom drawer” since it was adopted by the Council of Europe back in 2011.
The Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Bill was put forward by SNP MP Eilidh Whiteford, who said: “We need to name violence against women for what it is — the most pervasive and systemic human rights abuse in the world today, affecting women in every street, in every village, every town and every city in every country around the world.”
The ActionAid charity welcomed the legislation’s advancement, with women’s rights campaigns manager Sarah Carso hailing it as “a vital step” forward.
Ms Carso said: “MPs have sent a clear message that it is time for action on the critical issue of ending violence against women and girls.”
The vote to give the Bill a second reading came after a debate in which Mr Davies had been asked if he wanted to ratify the convention, and he replied: “No, I’m against this, and I’m trying to set out my reasons why I’m against ratifying this.
“What I want them to do is ratify something that actually targets all violence.”
Fellow Tory Helen Whately pressed Mr Davies to clarify his position, asking: “Are you arguing that there is no point in doing something which is a good thing unless it solves all the problems of the world?”
Mr Davies suggested that the convention made it “explicitly clear that it’s fine to discriminate against men.”
End Violence Against Women charity co-director Rachel Krys told the Star: “To call it ‘sexist’ is totally missing the point.
“It is absolutely not sexist [to say] that the disproportionate number of people who are affected are women, as men are the perpetrators.
“The figures … suggest it is a really big problem, disproportionately affecting women.
“Rape, domestic violence, honour-based violence, FGM [female genital mutilation], all disproportionately affect women and the perpetrators are men.
“Any solution must take into account stereotypes of structural inequalities that women face.”
MPs voted a majority of 133, with 135 votes for and only two opposed.
Of the 137 MPs who voted on the Bill, all but two backed it, the exceptions being Conservatives David Nuttall and Philip Hollobone.
Mr Davies and Tory former minister Christopher Chope acted as tellers of the No votes.
The Bill will now progress to the committee stage and faces a race against time to become law before the end of the current parliamentary session.