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Combating violence: How will ratification of the Istanbul Convention help women?

On June 20, 2022, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky signed a law ratifying the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.


What is the Istanbul Convention and what mechanisms does it offer to Ukraine to combat violence?


The Istanbul Convention, also known as the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women, is a document that legally obliges Ukraine to establish a comprehensive legal framework and to develop an approach to combating violence against women.


The Convention aims to prevent domestic violence, protects victims and aims to facilitate the prosecution of perpetrators of such crimes.


That is, psychological, physical and sexual violence, harassment, as well as forced abortions, sterilization and marriage are now criminalized in Ukraine.


The five main changes introduced by the convention


Marina Govorukhina, an expert on strategic communications for the "For the Istanbul Convention" campaign, highlighted the five main changes that this document can bring to Ukraine.



1. The creation of a single institution where people can receive comprehensive support in one place, and all these services should be coordinated with each other.


Previously, victims of domestic violence had to turn to various specialists - investigators, doctors, psychologists, lawyers. Not everyone knew how to behave with the victims, and now they will be trained.


If the convention had taken effect before the war, many of the victims of Russian military violence could have received more professional help.


2. The state will create shelters where victims can stay.


Previously, women had nowhere to go from the offender. The existing shelters were funded mainly by NGOs, and this was not enough.


Now the victims must have access to the shelter in the nearest city around the clock and will be able to stay there with their children. These shelters must also be funded by the state. The norm is one family home per 10,000 population.


3. After ratification, all cases will be investigated, regardless of who declared them.


Currently, domestic violence is investigated only if the victim reports it. But the reality is that women do not always apply to their husbands. Or they could take her away under her husband's pressure.


That is, now, if the neighbors hear screams at the door and call the police, they have to check and respond.


4. Prior to ratification, the victims could not demand money from the perpetrator - now there will be compensation.


5. Parental rights may now be restricted if the violence took place in or against the child.


Previously, domestic violence in the presence of a child did not lead to deprivation of parental rights, except that the abuser had already been convicted of intentional acts against the child.


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