A Private Members Bill was brought before the House of Commons by Dr. Eilidh Whiteford MP and called on the Government to commit to a timetable of ratifying the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty which has been described as the “gold standard” of legislation for gender-based violence.
On Friday 16 December 2016, I attended the debate and with the other two SDLP MP’s voted for the Bill that would ratify the Istanbul Convention on violence against women.
Whilst I was unable to speak on the Bill, I was delighted to vote in favour of it and was glad to see the Bill successfully progress to the Committee Stage.
If the Bill is passed, the UK Government will be obliged to guarantee funding for shelters, rape crisis centres, helplines and education in schools on healthy relationships.
The UK was involved in the development of the legally binding pan-European treaty; however, despite signing the Istanbul Convention in June 2012, the Government has yet to ratify it, making it legally binding.
I can assure you that the SDLP MP’s will continue to support this Bill.
Prior to the debate, I also raised a written Parliamentary Question on the time taken to ratify the Istanbul Convention with the Secretary of State for the Home (Home Secretary), see the question and reply below.
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment she has made of the effect of the time taken to ratify the Istanbul Convention on women who have experienced domestic, sexual, emotional and financial violence in the last four years. (56493) Tabled on: 07 December 2016
The Coalition Government signed the Istanbul Convention in 2012 to show its strong commitment to tackling violence against women and girls (VAWG), and this Government remains absolutely committed to ratifying it. Given that in most respects measures already in place to protect women and girls from violence comply with, or go further, than the Convention requires, time taken to ratify the Convention has not impacted on women who experience violence and abuse. Our cross-Government VAWG strategy sets out our ongoing commitment to tackling these crimes, and is underpinned by increased funding of £80 million. The Government has already taken extra-territorial jurisdiction (ETJ) for female genital mutilation and forced marriage, but before the Convention is ratified we need to take ETJ over a range of other offences. We will seek to legislate when the approach to implementing ETJ is agreed and Parliamentary time allows.