Article 26 – Protection and support for child witnesses of violence
Article 8 – Financial Resources
Article 38 – Female Genital Mutilation
Article 60 – Gender-based asylum claims
Article 24 – Telephone helplines
Article 25 – Support for victims of sexual violence
The Istanbul Convention
A new tool for NGOsscroll down
The Istanbul Convention in brief
Violence is not fate, it is a cause and a consequence of historical inequalities between women and men.
We are in the 21st century and yet, whether in the private sphere or the public sphere we witness unacceptable acts of gender-based violence on a daily basis. However, a Convention by the Council of Europe specifically targeting violence against women and domestic violence was established on 11 May 2011: 'The Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.'
Legally binding for the countries that ratify it, the Istanbul Convention addresses all forms of violence against women, including domestic violence. It also offers practical insights on how citizens and NGOs can bring about real change.
Monitoring the implementation of the Convention
In order to assess and improve the implementation of the Convention by the States, two distinct bodies are interacting ; the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) and the Committee of the Parties, which is composed of representatives of the Parties to the Istanbul Convention.
NGOs can turn to the GREVIO to address their reports, observations and alerts about serious, expanded or recurrent acts of violence, which should be covered by the Convention.
The four Pillars
Treatment programs for perpetrators;
Involving media and private sector in eradicating gender stereotypes;
Teaching material for education programs
Emergency restraining orders for perpetrators;
Easy accessible and adequately distributed shelters and crisis centres;
24/7 telephone helplines
Clear definition and criminalisation of all forms of Violence against women;
Elimination of “honour” as a form of justification
Joint action by different actors: NGOs, Parliaments,local authorities, police, etc.;
Appropriate financial and human resources for implementation
What is going to change ?
Step up awareness-raising and improve skills of professionals working in the field
Easy accessible and adequately distributed shelters and crisis centres
Member States are obliged to ensure state-wide 24/7 telephone helplines available free of charge
Greater political and financial support for their work. Key role in monitoring the implementation of the Convention by the States
Extend the measures of the Convention to children, who can be severely affected, both as direct victims or as witnesses
Victims of violence will be entitled of international protection: obligation to recognise gender-based violence against women as a form of persecution
Video: “Violence is not fate, it is made”
The Istanbul Convention by Country
The Istanbul Convention was open to signature on 11 May 2011. As of October 2016, it has been signed by 42 countries and ratified by 22; it is open for ratification also from non-members states of the Council of Europe (such as Tunisia, Morocco etc.).
Map of signatures and ratifications
Our focus countries
There is currently no help structure for rape victimsRead more +
1 woman every 3 days and 1 child every 10 days dies at the hand of a close relativeRead more +
Between 2004 & 2013, the number of married underaged girls has gone from 18.341 to 35.152Read more +
95% of women victim of violence never file a complaintRead more +
In the past 10 years the number of gender-related homicides has tripledRead more +
Cyprus has known many positive developments regarding increasing awareness and commitment towards preventing and combating violence against women – particularly domestic violence – in recent years, such as the adoption of a National Action Plan for the Prevention and Combating of Violence in the Family (2010-2013). But the lack of systematic data collection and analysis impedes a true understanding of the extent of these crimes in Cyprus.
One of the biggest challenges in combating violence against women in Cyprus is that the current legislative framework and policies are designed to combat ‘family violence’ only. This has been detrimental because the definition of violence in the family is gender-neutral and does not recognize that women are the primary victims of such violence. [MIGS paper, 2016]
Another major challenge is the absence of a comprehensive support and treatment system for victims of all forms of violence against women and girls. For example, there are currently no specialised services for victims of rape and sexual assault.
According to available data, cases of domestic violence don’t develop into criminal investigations, while at the same time, the penalties imposed on the perpetrators of violence against women are inadequate for both domestic violence and rape. This ‘justice gap’ is directly related to a lack of awareness and understanding of violence against women among services providers and the judiciary, as well as to the lack of a comprehensive victim support system.
Cyprus has signed, but not ratified, the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.
STATS According to the first national survey on the prevalence of domestic violence against women in Cyprus in 2012, 28% of the women have experienced some kind of violence during their life, including economic violence (19.4%), psychological violence (19.3%), sexual violence (15.5%), social violence (14.8%), and physical violence (13.4%). 57% of those who reported having been victims of violence did not tell anybody, and only 30% asked for help and 9% received medical care. [MIGS paper, 2016]
According to the European-wide survey on violence against women carried out by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) in 2014, 1 out of 5 women in Cyprus have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15. More specifically, in relation to intimate partner violence, 14% of women have experienced physical violence by a partner. According to police data, there were 57 cases of reported rape between 2012-2014 and thirty women were killed as a result of intimate partner violence between 2003-2013.
In 2015 alone, 115 women were killed by their spouse or former spouse. 7 women were killed by their unofficial partner (lovers, boyfriends, episodic relationships etc.).
On average, each year, approximately 223,000 women aged 18 to 75 are victim of the most severe forms of domestic violence (physical and/or sexual abuse by their partner or ex-spouse). Of these, only 14% have filed complaints. According to the victims’ estimates, 68% of them reported that the violence has had serious repercussions on their psychological health and 54% that the violence led to disruptions in their daily lives.
143,000 children live in a home where a woman reported being victim of physical and/or sexual abuse from a spouse or former spouse. In 2015, 36 minors were killed in the context of domestic violence or following the homicide of one of the partners: 96 minor children became orphan.
On average, each year, around 84,000 women aged 18 to 75 are victims of rape or attempted rape. In 90% of the cases, the victim knows her attacker. 10% of victims have reportedly filed a complaint.
The number “3919” is the national hotline number to provide information and support to women victim of all forms of violence. In 2014, the call center processed 50,780 calls. Among them, 38,972 were related to violence against women.
Morocco does not provide full protection to women against the various types of violence of which they can be victims. Although the Constitution prohibits discrimination and «treatment which is cruel, inhumane, degrading, or undermines their dignity», the penal code, whose reform is underway, does not guarantee the effective protection of women against violence and discrimination.
Rape is considered a crime against morality and not against the person. Marital rape, sexual harassment in public places, and psychological violence are not yet offences under the penal code.
Although Morocco is signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the country only recognises its obligation to eliminate discrimination against women as long as this does not contradict Sharia Law.
Counselling services and shelters for women and girls victim of violence are generally set up by civil society organisations but they lack resources, and as a result, they are not numerous. This situation is even worse in rural areas. [Factsheet]
STATS: In 2009, a national survey on the prevalence of violence against women was carried out by the High Commissioner to the Plan. This survey revealed that in a population of 9.5 million of women aged between 18 and 64, nearly 6 million (i.e. 63%) had been subjected to an act of violence during the twelve months preceding the survey, and out of these, 3.7 million (55%) had suffered domestic violence.
- Sexual: 23% of women (2.1 million) have suffered an act of sexual violence at one point in their lives. These victims are three times higher in urban areas (2.2 million) than in rural areas (712,000).
- Psychologic: this form of violence is the most widespread: with a prevalence rate of 48.4%, 4.6 million women are victims of it (3 million urban and 1.6 million in rural areas).
- Economic violence, for instance denying a woman the right to access resources, affects more than 181,000 women (a ratio of 8.2%) and is more widespread in rural areas.
Violence that occurred in public places is reported to a competent authority in just 17.4% of cases, while domestic violence is only reported 3% of the time.
Tunisia was always presented as a forerunner when it comes to protection and respect of women’s rights in the Arab world. The Civil Code, established in 1956, establishes gender equality and emancipates Tunisian women. The 2014 Constitution also dictates equality between all citizens and forces the State to fight against violence against women. But in 2010, a national survey by the government revealed alarming violence rates in the country.
Published in 2011, this survey unveiled that nearly 50% of women aged 18 to 64 were victim of some form of violence in their lifetime. Physical violence prevailed (31.7%), followed by psychological violence (28.9%), sexual violence (15%) and economic violence (7.1%). Yet too many women victim of violence remain silent: only 5% of them press charges.
In 2016, another survey underlined that 53% of women have already been a victim of some sort of violence in a public space between 2011 and 2015 alone.
Given the current situation, the adoption of a specific law to fight violence against women therefore appears essential. In March 2014, the Ministry for women and family affairs called for a new law specifically targeting women’s rights and gender equality.
Until the late 1990s, the legislation that criminalised violence against women was highly insufficient and ineffective. But in 2012, the Law on the Protection of the Family and the Prevention of Violence against Women (6284) marked an important step forward. However, its enforcement is still very unequal.
The new Combating Violence against Women National Action Plan (2016-2019), which was prepared with limited NGO participation, has not yet been issued and the reports regarding the outcomes and efficiency of the previous plan has not been shared.
Although Turkey was the first country to ratify the Istanbul Convention, required legislation amendments have not been enforced as of yet, more than 2 years after it came into force.
Following the adoption of the Law on the Protection of the Family and the Prevention of Violence against Women (N.6248), the government established several Violence Prevention and Observing Centers (ŞÖNİM) in charge of monitoring and supporting the implementation of the Law. Yet, as reported by many NGOs, these centers are still too few, difficult to access, and therefore inefficient.
Turkey stated that a total of 137 shelters with a total capacity of 3,442 operate in Turkey. The capacity seems extremely low in comparison with the overall population of women which is approximately 39 million. [Shadow NGOs report CEDAW, 2016]
In the past 10 years the number of gender-related homicides has tripled. Between 2003 and 2013 domestic violence has increased more than 1,400%. In the first 8 months of 2016 alone, 175 women were killed.
For the first time, a comprehensive “Research on Domestic Violence against Woman in Turkey” was conducted in 2008 and updated in 2014. According to 2014 Research on Domestic Violence against Women, 38% of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence and 89% of them have not applied to any institutions/organizations.
In the Global Gender Gap report, Turkey ranks 125th among 142 countries, the lowest position among any OECD country. Only 24% of women are employed; most women working outside the house have low-paying jobs, and only 12% of Turkish CEOs are women.
Regarding abortion, in February 2013 a new bill was drafted that allows healthcare providers to refuse performing abortions and provided for a mandatory “consideration time” for women.
Lastly, Turkey is plagued with startling rates of child brides. It is estimated that 14% of girls are married before the age of 18 [IHD-FIDH submission CEDAW, 2016]
What you can do on the ground
The 3919 is since 1 January 2014 the reference national phone number destined to women victims of all forms of violence (domestic, sexual, work-related, FGM, forced marriage, etc.). This free phone number was first installed by the French organisation FNSF (Fédération Nationale Solidarité Femmes) in 1992.
Turkey: Men Kill 29 Women in January
According to the reports Bianet compiled from local and national newspapers, news sites and agencies, men have killed 29 women; raped six; harassed six; sexually abused 27 girls; inflicted violence on 23 in January. Read more on Bianet.
Egypt: Women Human Rights Defenders Treated as Enemies
On the occasion of the sixth anniversary of the Egyptian revolution of 25 January 2011, EuroMed Rights launched the report “In Their Own Words – Features of the Struggle of Women Human Rights Defenders in Egypt”, which highlights the immense obstacles faced by women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in Egypt since 2011. Read the full report here.
Tunisian Minister warns of alarming rates of violence against women, children
Tunisian Minister of Women, Family and Children Naziha Laabidi warned yesterday that violence against women and children in Tunisia has reached very alarming levels. Laabidi made her remarks during a hearing before the rapporteur of the Committee of Rights, Freedoms and External Relations in the Tunisian parliament. Read more on Middle East Monitor.
Thunderclap action to to say #STOPViolenceAgainstWomen
Ahead of the International Day for the eradication of violence against women on 25 November, EuroMed Rights launched a Thunderclap action to gather support to raise awareness on the reality of violence against women in the Euro-Mediterranean region. On 25 November at noon, our message was sent online through 120 individuals and organisations with a total social reach of over 300.000.
Turkey’s ruling AKP proposes rapists be released from prison if married to victims
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has brought a bill to Parliament that proposes rapists in Turkish jails be released if they are married to their victims, as in the case of child marriage, a way out of prison for more than 4,000 inmates convicted of rape. Read the full article on Turkish minute
Campaign launch event in Tunisia
On Friday 14 October, EuroMed Rights and its member and partner organisations launched their campaign on the Istanbul Convention through a public event in Tunis. On this occasion, the Tunisian athlete and Olympic champion, Habiba Ghribi, was present to launch the campaign as its Tunisian ambassador. A short video and a debate followed with representative of EuroMed Rights, the GREVIO and key Tunisia Civil Society organisations (AFTD, Beity, AFTURD).
Second anniversary of Istanbul Convention
On the second anniversary of the Istanbul Convention, EuroMed Rights collected the testimonies of its member and partner organisations engaged in fighting all types of violence against women. Through them, EuroMed Rights want to raise awareness on the pioneering aspects of this Convention and call on all women’s rights organisations across the Euromed to use the Convention, so they are better equipped to make a palpable difference in the lives of the women and children affected by violence.
Links & Resources
- EGYPT: REPORT ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN, December 2016
- MOROCCO: REPORT ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN, December 2016
- CYPRUS: REPORT ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN, November 2016
- TUNISIA :WHICH CHALLENGES TO DEFEAT VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN? June 2016
- MOROCCO: REPORT ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN, December 2015
- DETENTION OF WOMEN IN SYRIA: A WEAPON OF WAR AND TERROR, May 2015
- ZERO IMPUNITY FOR VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN!, 2015