ASTRA Central and Eastern European Women’s Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights and Health

May 11 2017

On 11 May 2017, the Council adopted two decisions on the signing of the Council of Europe Convention (Istanbul Convention) on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. 

By deciding to join the Istanbul Convention, the European Union confirms its commitment  to combating violence against women within its territory and globally, and strengthens the  existing legal framework and its capacity to act. 

Helena Dalli, minister for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties of Malta said : "Violence against women is a violation of human rights and an extreme form of discrimination. By joining the Istanbul convention, the EU reaffirms its leading role in ending violence against women and tackling all forms of discrimination based on gender. This is yet another achievement that will surely have a positive effect on those who are vulnerable to gender-based violence." 

All EU member states have already signed the Convention. Having the EU join the Convention as well will ensure complementarity between the national and EU level and will consolidate the capacity for the EU to play a more effective role in international fora such as the Council of Europe Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO). 

The decision on signing is the first step in the process of the EU joining the Convention. Following the official signing,  accession requires the adoption of the decisions on the conclusion of the Convention. These decisions will need the consent of the Parliament.

Source: European Council

May 04 2017

The Great Coalition for Equality and Choice, consisting of over 70 non-governmental organizations, was established as a reaction to the offensive of anti-women groups. Among them these threatening actions are regular draft regulations directly attacking the life and health of women, restricting access to emergency contraception, frightening doctors in their work places, the shocking anti-abortion campaigns, the fight against comprehensive sexuality education, as well as the systemic weakening of the protection of women against domestic violence. These actions call for active and organized resistance of the civil society and all actors.  

The Coalition’s goal is the comprehensive fight for women’s human rights: quick threat identification, coordination of legal activities, and building social awareness. The group demand sexuality education, good standards of perinatal care, the fullness of reproductive rights, and the total elimination of violence against women. The coming weeks will shape the actions of the Coalition.

Read the full text here

May 02 2017

While considerable progress has been achieved in protecting human rights in recent years, the Lithuanian authorities still have to address some remaining shortcomings, in particular as regards the protection of women, children and persons with disabilities” said Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, in a report released today based on a visit to the country carried out in December 2016.

Commending the progress made to prevent and combat domestic and gender-based violence, the Commissioner recommends harmonising the provisions of the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code with those of the 2011 Law on Protection against domestic violence, most notably with regard to the application of protection measures. “Judges should be made fully aware of the important role they play in protecting victims, preventing repeated instances of abuse and bringing perpetrators to justice. Furthermore, a unified and systematic approach to preventing violence and responding to calls for help should be developed and consistently applied throughout the country”, said the Commissioner.

Apr 27 2017

In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister of Croatia, Commissioner Muižnieks strongly encourages the authorities to move quickly forward on their path towards the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (‘Istanbul Convention’). He also underscores the importance of eliminating misconceptions about this Convention in public discourse in Croatia, in particular concerning the use of the term “gender”.

“Some critics may acknowledge that violence against women is a problem, but wish to prevent governments from challenging traditional gender roles and stereotypes, due to a cultural affirmation that men and women should play very different roles in public life and within the family. This approach limits women to the stereotypical role of mothers, giving birth and staying at home to rear children. The critics go as far as to argue that the Istanbul Convention should not be ratified because it would endanger societies based on traditional families. This is a fallacious claim: all the measures provided for by the Istanbul Convention reinforce family foundations and ties by preventing and combating violence, which represents one of the main causes of destruction of families.”

Read the Commissioner for Human Rights letter addressed to the Prime Minister of Croatia

Read the reply by the Croatian authorities to the letter

Source: CoE Commissioner for Human Rights

Apr 20 2017

The United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Ms. Karima Bennoune, is inviting all relevant stakeholders to contribute to a consultation on the impact of fundamentalism and extremism on the cultural rights of women.

In her last report to the Human Rights Council, the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights presented an overview of the impact of diverse forms of fundamentalism and extremism on the enjoyment of cultural rights (A/HRC/34/56). She also indicated her intention to study this issue further for her upcoming report to the General Assembly. This follow up report will focus on the impact of fundamentalism and extremism, as defined in A/HRC/34/56, on the cultural rights of women.

In order to assess the impact of fundamentalism and extremism on women’s enjoyment of cultural rights and challenges related to the rights of women to access, take part in and contribute to cultural life, and to contribute to and enjoy the arts and science, the Special Rapporteur has prepared a questionnaire and invited all States, United Nations agencies, academics and civil society organizations to send their contributions. She strongly encourages those making contributions to read her report A/HRC/34/56, as well as the report of the first mandate holder on the cultural rights of women (A/67/287). Where necessary, contributors should carefully explain the cultural rights impact of any issues they report on.

Details can be found in the link HERE, deadline for submissions is May 19th. 

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