On 24th February 2017, 138 MPs voted YES for the ratification of the strongest law the UK has ever seen to tackle violence against women and girls: the Istanbul Convention.

Following open letters to UK MPs by such figureheads as Emma Watson, four years of campaigning by IC Change and the Women’s Equality Party, and even an attempt to derail the debate of 24th February 2017 by new Women and Equalities Minister Philip Davies (who filibusted for a record 78 minutes!), Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II gave her royal assent on 27th April 2017 to a bill requiring the UK to ratify the Istanbul Convention  thereby making it law.

The Istanbul Convention is the first international law of its kind and is designed to eradicate violence against women and girls on a global scale.

The United Kingdom has been one of 44 signatories to the Convention since 2012 but has not yet adopted the Convention into domestic law – a process known as ‘ratification’.

With the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, the UK government is legally bound to ensure three Ps: Prevention, through comprehensive training and education, Protection for victims, and the stringent Prosecution of perpetrators.

Under the Act ratified by the Queen, an annual report is set to be issued by the government setting out the steps required to bring the UK fully into line with the Convention. Once full compliance has been achieved the government will need to make a formal announcement to Parliament with a likely date for ratification.

 This victory is the beginning of a promising political shift, but it’s important we keep the pressure on our MPs to ensure the Convention is ratified and adhered to.
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE who raised their voices and tweeted, wrote to and emailed their MPs demanding action. This is YOUR victory…
What is the Istanbul Convention?
  1. The Istanbul Convention (which the UK Government has signed but not ratified) is the first international treaty to establish a legally-binding definition of violence against women as “a violation of human rights and a form of discrimination against women”.
  2. It is the most comprehensive international treaty to tackle violence against women, and requests all states to criminalise major forms of violence against women.
  3. In addition, it requires all states that sign up to it to support women and girls by protecting access to specialist domestic abuse services – this includes ensuring funds are available to keep those services going.