Bill requiring UK Government to ratify Istanbul treaty passes with ease as Scots MP leads way with cross-party support
“HUGE AND HISTORIC” were the words used by Dr Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff and Buchan, to described the passage of a bill that would make the UK Government ratify an international treaty tackling violence against women.
The Istanbul Convention, which is a legal framework ensuring an international standard of legal and financial actions to tackle domestic abuse and violence against women, passed its third reading stage in Westminster.
It passed with an overwhelming majority of 138 in favour to just 1 against meaning it will now go to the House of Lords before being put into law.
The passage from the Commons to the Lords follows a long battle between women’s charities, MPs and the UK Government over its reluctance to ratify the treaty for administrative and legal reasons.
“This is a huge and historic step forward in efforts to tackle violence against women.” Dr Eilidh Whiteford, MP
In response to the bill passing Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said: “I am delighted that this landmark legislation to combat gender-based violence has received such overwhelming cross-party support and now looks set to become UK law.
“This is a huge and historic step forward in efforts to tackle violence against women and has the potential to transform the lives of thousands of women right across the country.
“Women’s equality organisations and activists have been campaigning for the UK government to ratify the Istanbul Convention for many years now – so today’s vote is a cause for celebration and a testament to their sustained efforts.
“The Istanbul Convention is the most comprehensive and far-reaching framework that exists to tackle violence against women in its many forms and manifestations, and critically, it provides the legal apparatus to hold governments accountable for their progress. This is a powerful vehicle for improving policy, practices and services on an ongoing basis.”
“The Istanbul Convention is the most comprehensive and far-reaching framework that exists to tackle violence against women in its many forms.” Dr Eilidh Whiteford, MP
Whiteford, who is the SNP’s Westminster spokesperson for social justice, secured cross-party support for her bill, which has been backed by women’s advocacy groups organisations such as IC Change, Scottish Women’s Aid, Rape Crisis Scotland, White Ribbon and the NUS.
It even received backing from actor and UN Women global goodwill ambassador, Emma Watson, who wrote to MPs urging them to vote for the legislation this week. However during the debate for the bill in the House of Commons, Tory MP Phillip Davis attempted to talk out the bill to the derision of most members of the house.
Known also as ‘The Council of Europe Convention‘ on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, the Istanbul Convention is was opened for signature on 11 May 2011, in Istanbul, Turkey. The convention is aimed at the prevention of violence, victim protection and “to end with the impunity of perpetrators”.
It argues for co-signing countries to adopt a set of resolutions and recommendations calling for legally-binding standards on prevention and prosecution of the most severe forms of gender-based violence.
“This Convention would require our Government to encourage all men and boys to be part of the solution – contributing actively to creating a safe society for everyone.” David Barlett
White Ribbon CEO David Bartlett said: “We urge all MPs who care about ending violence and promoting gender equality to vote in favour of the Bill today.
“We are fully behind the Istanbul Convention and the standards it will set for our Government, because no woman or girl should have to suffer abuse or violence. In fact, violence against women and girls affects us all, ruining lives and destroying families.
“We applaud the Convention’s recognition that we cannot end violence against women and girls and achieve gender equality without the active involvement of men and boys. More and more men are already taking a stand – showing that violence has nothing to do with the sort of person they want to be. This Convention would require our Government to encourage all men and boys to be part of the solution – contributing actively to creating a safe society for everyone.”
Picture courtesy of Catriona Matheson
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