Europe: Convention on Violence Against Women Enters into Force
Friday, August 1, 2014 1:10 PM

The Council of Europe's Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention, entered into force on August 1, 2014. The Istanbul Convention, named for its adoption in Istanbul in 2011, is Europe’s first treaty designed to combat all forms of violence against women, including stalking, sexual harassment, rape, domestic violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation. It requires states to strenghten their efforts in four primary areas: protection of victims, prevention of violence, prosecution of perpetrators and provision of victim services, such as shelters and medical care. In early 2015, an independent group of experts will be set up to monitor implementation of the Convention.

Entry into force of the Istanbul Convention is critical in light of a landmark report by the EU’s Agency for Fundamental Rights (“FRA”), which found that physical and sexual violence affects 62 million women across Europe. Calling on European countries to ratify the Istanbul Convention in March, FRA Director Morten Kjaerum stated, "[m]easures tackling violence against women need to be taken to a new level now.” 

On April 22, Andorra became the 10th Council of Europe (COE) member state to ratify the Istanbul Convention, triggering the entry into force of the Convention on August 1. Four other countries have since ratified the convention, bringing the total number of countries that have ratified the treaty to fourteen, including: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, France, Italy, Malta, Montenegro, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Sweden and Turkey. An additional twenty-two countries have signed the Convention, which is the first step towards ratification. The treaty will only be legally binding for those countries that have ratified it. 

Compiled from:  D’Urso, Joseph, Convention raises bar for Europe to combat violence against women, Thomson Reuters Foundation (August 1, 2014); Council of Europe, Convention to protect women against all forms of violence enters into force, Directorate of Communications (July 31, 2014); Europe: Convention on Violence Against Women Takes Effect in August, The Advocates for Human Rights (April 24, 2014).