The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (Istanbul Convention) was opened for signature on 11 May 2011, in Istanbul, Turkey.
The convention aims at prevention of violence, victim protection and "to end with the impunity of perpetrators". As of January 2018, it has been signed by 46 countries and the European Union. On 12 March 2012, Turkey became the first country to ratify the Convention, followed by twenty eight other countries from 2013 to 2017 (Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Estonia, France, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Macedonia, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Portugal, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland).
The Convention came into force on 1 August 2014.
About the Convention : Stalking, sexual harassment, sexual violence (including rape), physical, and psychological abuse at the hands of intimate partners, forced marriage, and forced sterilisation are deeply traumatising acts of violence. The overwhelming majority of victims are women. Adding female genital mutilation and forced abortion as forms of violence that only women can be subjected to, shows the shocking level of diversity in cruel and degrading behaviour that women experience. If we consider the fact that most violence is carried out by men, it is just a small step to understanding that violence against women is structural violence – violence that is used to sustain male power and control. This is even more obvious if we consider at the patchy attempts of the police, courts and social services to help women victims which is seen in many countries across the world.
It is based on the understanding that violence against women is a form of gender-based violence that is committed against women because they are women. It is the obligation of the state to address it fully in all its forms and to take measures to prevent violence against women, protect its victims and prosecute the perpetrators. Failure to do so would make it the responsibility of the state. The convention leaves no doubt: there can be no real equality between women and men if women experience gender-based violence on a large-scale and state agencies and institutions turn a blind eye.
Because it is not only women and girls who suffer domestic violence, parties to the convention are encouraged to apply the protective framework it creates to men who are exposed to violence within the family or domestic unit. Nevertheless, it should not be overlooked that the majority of victims of domestic violence are women and that domestic violence against them is part of a wider pattern of discrimination and inequality.
This platform is part of the Axis 1 "Strengthening the capacities of equality actors" of the Priority Solidarity Fund "Women for the future in the Mediterranean" funded by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and led by the European Institute of the Mediterranean, in the framework of the project “Developing Women's Empowerment” labelled by the Union for the Mediterranean.