The Council of the EU approved the Istanbul Convention
The Council of the EU has announced that it has adopted a decision on the accession of the EU to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention).
The Convention provides for the collection of data and raising awareness of acts of violence against women and girls, as well as the criminalization of various similar acts. The EU's accession to the convention is part of efforts to achieve equality between women and men, the announcement states. Violence against women is not only a crime, but also an extreme form of discrimination rooted in gender inequality. Violence against women contributes to the maintenance and increase of these inequalities, adds the Council of the EU.
The Convention is the first international instrument aimed at eliminating violence against women, including girls under the age of 18. This violence is one of the most common human rights violations in the world. Every third woman has been a victim of physical or sexual violence, mostly by intimate partners, the report notes.
The Istanbul Convention entered into force in April 2014 and was signed by the EU on 13 June 2017. The Council of the EU and the European Parliament are in the process of adopting European legislation to combat violence against women and domestic violence. Sharing of intimate images without consent, female genital mutilation and online harassment are planned to be criminalized in the EU.
In May, the European Parliament voted on a decision agreeing with the Council of the EU to complete the process of ratifying the Istanbul Convention. The recommendation was approved by two separate votes with an overwhelming majority - over 450 votes from around 600 participating MEPs. Of all the Bulgarian MEPs, only the representative of VMRO, Angel Djambazki, voted against the decision.
As of September 2022, the convention has been signed by all EU countries and ratified by 21 of them. Only Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic have not yet ratified the convention, the text states. Outside the EU, Britain, Moldova and Ukraine - at the height of the raging war - ratified the convention in 2022, and Turkey is the only country to withdraw from the convention.
Six years after the EU signed the convention - the first legally binding international way to prevent and combat violence against women and girls - and despite numerous calls from a majority of MEPs, the document has still not been ratified due to the refusal of several countries.
The opinion of the Court of Justice of the EU on 6 October 2021 confirmed that the EU can ratify the convention even without the consent of all EU countries. Therefore, the Council of the EU sought and received the consent of the EP to complete the process.
The accession of the EU to the Istanbul Convention does not release the Community countries from the obligation to ratify it themselves. The majority in the EP called on Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Hungary and the Czech Republic to ratify the convention immediately.
The decision in the Council of the EU was adopted by a qualified majority. To achieve such a majority, the support of at least 15 out of 27 countries (55 percent), which represent at least 65 percent of the population in the EU, is needed.
It is not clear whether countries that have not ratified the convention will be obliged to implement it after the adoption of a decision at EU level.
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