Why Hasn’t the UK Ratified the Most Important Violence Against Women Treaty?

Twenty-six countries have ratified the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, including Germany, France and Italy. So why is the UK dragging its feet?

Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is one of the most serious human rights issues in the UK. Every week, two women in England and Wales are killed by their current or former partner.

The Istanbul Convention is a comprehensive legal framework that sets out the minimum standards for countries to adhere to in combatting violence against women and girls.

It requires governments to:

  • prevent violence against women and girls, through the recognition that it’s a result of gender inequality;
  • provide support and protection services to victims;
  • effectively prosecute and rehabilitate perpetrators; and
  • co-operate with other states to eliminate violence globally.

While the Convention has high-level obligations such as “promoting changes in social and cultural patterns of behaviour that are based on the idea of the inferiority of women or on stereotyped roles for women and men”, it also requires states to provide practical things such as 24/7 helplines.


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