Last Friday in Westminster, Robin Walker, MP for Worcester was pleased to support a Private Member’s Bill which aims to crack down on violence against women by ratifying the Istanbul Convention. MPs were debating the Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Bill tabled by Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP.
The private members bill aims to enshrine a leading international treaty; the Istanbul Convention on domestic violence in British law. The Istanbul convention has been described as the “gold standard” of legislation on gender-based violence and addresses FGM, domestic violence, sexual abuse and child marriage.
Countries that incorporate the treaty commit to ensuring survivors of domestic violence can have access to specialist support services and refuges, monitoring data about gender-based violence and having age appropriate education at schools about domestic abuse.
Although many forms of domestic and sexual abuse are already illegal in the UK, some of the legislation commits to general principles of victims’ “welfare and wellbeing” which can be subject to interpretation by different courts and local councils, resulting in varying access to welfare and other provisions.
The convention has already been signed by 22 countries including Italy, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Spain.
This Government remains committed to tackling violence against women and girls, and is making arrangements to further amendments to domestic law, to take extra-territorial jurisdiction over a range of offences, which are necessary before the Convention can be fully ratified, hence the Government’s support for this bill. The UK Government signed the Convention in June 2012.
Home Office Minister Mr Brandon Lewis responded for the Government and replied that the Government was “committed” to ratifying the convention. He said the government was working to tackle crimes which disproportionately affect women and girls, and said existing laws protected them in almost all cases.
He confirmed the Government would back the bill, but with some alterations at committee stage – such as removing a four-week timetable built in to it.
Robin was previously the PPS to the Minister for Women and Equalities where he did a considerable amount of work in this area, and has recently supported the White Ribbon campaign in Worcestershire, which is part of a global movement to put a stop to male violence against women and girls.
“I have been contacted by a number of constituents regarding this Bill, which I was always keen to support. I was very pleased to join colleagues on the front bench and support it by voting in favour.”
Notes to Editors:
For further information regarding this Bill: http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2016-17/preventingandcombatingviolenceagainstwomenanddomesticviolenceratificationofconvention.html
To read the debate in full: