Parliament Drops Consideration of Istanbul Convention

The Parliament of Poland has again delayed ratification of the Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence ("Istanbul Convention").  Two key Parliamentary Committees removed consideration of the Istanbul Convention from their agendas, making it unlikely the full Polish Parliament will debate ratification this year. Poland signed the Convention nearly two years ago, in December 2012.

As reported by Polish Radio, women’s advocates in Poland have “voiced concern and disappointment that the convention has taken so long to get through parliament.” They said ratification of the Istanbul Convention is urgently needed because Poland lacks comprehensive and effective laws to protect women from violence. However, on October 2, the Polish Bishop’s conference issued a statement calling on Parliament to reject the Istanbul Convention. The Bishops said the Convention blames marriage and families for domestic violence.

The Istanbul Convention entered into force on August 1, 2014. The Convention, named for its adoption in Istanbul in 2011, is Europe's first comprehensive treaty designed to combat all forms of violence against women, including stalking, sexual harassment, rape, domestic violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation. To date, fifteen countries have ratified the Istanbul Convention and are legally bound by its terms. Another twenty-one countries including Poland have signed the Convention, the first step towards ratification.

The Istanbul Convention won the Vision Award from the World Future CouncilInter-Parliamentary Union and UN Women for its “ground breaking nature…and the vision it carries for the women of Europe.” 

Compiled from: Baczynska, Alicja, Poland yet to ratify violence against women convention, Polskie Radio (October 16, 2014); The Istanbul Convention wins Vision Award 2014, Council of Europe (October 15, 2014); The Convention in Brief, Council of Europe (2014); Luxmoore, Jonathan, Polish bishops urge legislators not to ratify European pact on violence against women, Catholic Herald (October 3, 2014).