I call on the UK Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention and end violence against women

This week in Strasbourg MEPs voted on a resolution calling for an end to violence against women.

Violence against women and girls, particularly domestic violence, remains one of the most serious human rights violations across Europe.

One woman in three in the UK experiences violence every year and a woman is raped every six minutes.

Domestic violence also has a higher rate of repeat victimisation than any other crime. That is why it is so important we address it and ensure victims are supported right across Europe.

Violence against women is a crime that involves victims and perpetrators from across all ages, educational backgrounds, incomes and social positions. It is both a consequence, and a cause, of gender inequality.

But whilst a report by the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service has highlighted the North West of England as having many examples of good practice within its domestic violence and violence against women strategies, it does not change the fact that in 2012-13 alone more than 15,000 prosecutions were brought forward for violence against women and girls in my region. This is shocking and unacceptable.

We need to be doing more at every single level, particularly in the face of cuts, to support services across Europe. Supporting victims and providing education to professionals who come into contact with these victims is imperative to reducing the numbers of women affected and improving the quality of support victims receive.

The EU has achieved so much over the years in terms of the recognition and enjoyment of women’s rights. Let’s make the elimination of violence against women the next big thing the EU does for women.

I am calling on the UK Government to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women, also known as the Istanbul Convention. This Convention would oblige the State to protect women against all forms of violence, and prevent, prosecute and eliminate violence against women and domestic violence.

I would like to reiterate this call and to call on any other Member States which have yet to do so to prioritise ratification. Ratifying this Convention demonstrates a true commitment to eliminating violence against women and girls.