Majority secured for bill to tackle violence against women

Date: 7th March 2017
Category: Non-discrimination

A bill requiring the UK Government to ratify the Istanbul treaty passed with ease as Scots MP Eilidh Whiteford led the way with cross-party support.

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.

"Huge and historic" were the words used by Dr Eilidh Whiteford, MP for Banff and Buchan, to describe the passage of a bill that would make the UK Government ratify an international treaty tackling violence against women. 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.

Known also as 'The Council of Europe Convention' on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, the Istanbul Convention was opened for signature on 11 May 2011, in Istanbul, Turkey. The convention is aimed at the prevention of violence and victim protection.

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.

Together have made annual recommendations through its State of Children's Rights report to the UK government to ratify the Istanbul Convention and welcomes this development.