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UK drags its feet over women’s rights

SNP MEP Alyn Smith has renewed his calls for the UK and EU to ratify the Istanbul Convention as the UN marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women today (Wednesday).


The Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, described as the Council of Europe’s award-winning and standard-setting treaty, is yet to be implemented in the United Kingdom.

This year, during the ’16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence’ starting today, the UN is asking activists to organise “Orange Events” and share them on social media using #orangetheworld to raise awareness of gender-based discrimination and violence. 

Alyn said:

“The statistics are truly shocking: UN Women estimates that one in three women worldwide have experienced physical or sexual violence — mostly by an intimate partner. In Scotland, a domestic violence incident is recorded every 10 minutes; many cases will never reach statistical data.

“Whether at home, on the streets or during war, violence against women is a pandemic. The scale of this problem is truly global and it is therefore disappointing to see that only nine EU countries ratified the Convention, which offers a comprehensive approach to combatting violence against women, and which has a real potential to strengthen the EU's efforts in promoting human rights and equality between men and women.

“The EU is now taking steps towards ratifying the Council of Europe's Istanbul Convention, which has the potential to save lives. The opportunity for the EU to ratify human rights treaties as an entity in itself has been fairly limited until now and we must push for the EU-wide adoption of the treaty.

“However, the UK is yet to implement the Convention to which it signed up to in 2012. This is one of the few protocols that sets out minimum standards on prevention, protection, prosecution and the development of integrated policies but despite numerous calls from women’s rights NGOs, the UK Government is dragging its feet in failing to fully commit to the treaty."