A bill requiring the UK to ratify the Istanbul Convention has received royal assent, thereby becoming law.
More formally known as the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, the Convention was opened for signature by members of the Council of Europe in the eponymous Turkish city in 2011. It sets out a variety of measures designed to discourage the domestic violence experienced by women, protect and assist female victims, and encourage the prosecution of perpetrators.
The United Kingdom has been one of 44 signatories to the Convention since 2012 but has not yet adopted the Convention into domestic law, a process referred to as ‘ratification’.
The newly approved Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Act was introduced by Scottish National Party MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford to require the government to fully ratifiy the Convention.
Under the Act, progress will be monitored via an annual report to be issued by the government, setting out the next steps required to bring the UK fully into line. Once full compliance has been achieved the government will make a formal announcement to Parliament with a likely date for ratification.
The Istanbul Convention has attracted criticism from campaigners and commentators for focusing solely on violence against women and ignoring the violence encountered disproportionately by men.