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2021.05.11 08:00

‘For better future, for all’: foreign ambassadors in Lithuania sign open letter on Istanbul Convention

LRT.lt2021.05.11 08:00

Fifteen foreign ambassadors have signed an open letter on Istanbul Convention, urging Lithuania to ratify the document. LRT English is publishing their statement, in full.

Today is the 10th Anniversary of the Istanbul Convention. A powerful instrument, the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence was opened for signature on May 11, 2011 and entered into force on August 1, 2014.

It is the first instrument in Europe to set legally binding standards to prevent gender-based violence, protect victims of violence and punish perpetrators. Today, we reflect on what we have achieved so far and what challenges still lie ahead.

In that light, we welcome that the ratification of the Istanbul Convention is scheduled for the parliamentary session in Autumn, and we hope the debate will reflect the merits and values of the Istanbul Convention that was designed to promote safety, respect and gender equality and protect against gender-based violence.

"The Istanbul Convention was created to harmonise legal standards to ensure that victims benefit from the same level of protection everywhere in Europe."

The Istanbul Convention was signed by Lithuania in 2013 and has been ratified by 34 member states. The convention offers the most comprehensive legal framework to prevent and combat violence against women and girls. It asks for preventive actions to be taken, but also to support and protect women who have been exposed to violence or are at risk of such violence. It calls for action against the persisting problem of domestic violence, but also aims to protect women and girls from rape, sexual harassment, stalking, online violence and many other acts of violence against women.

The Istanbul Convention was created to harmonise legal standards to ensure that victims benefit from the same level of protection everywhere in Europe, because violence against women and domestic violence is a sad reality in the whole of Europe.

Unfortunately we witnessed in many countries how violence against women increased significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic. In Lithuania, UN women statistics show that one out of every four women has experienced domestic violence. An investigation into the provision of assistance to victims of domestic violence conducted recently by the Head of the Seimas Ombudsmen’s Office disclosed that assistance to victims of violence is still often unavailable in Lithuania.

"In Lithuania, UN women statistics show that one out of every four women has experienced domestic violence."

Although the adoption ofthe Lithuanian Law on Protection against Domestic Violence in 2011 has led to an almost tenfold increase in reports of violence and helped make great strides towards ensuring women’s protection from domestic violence, it leaves gaps which the Istanbul Convention, if ratified, could help fill.

Acknowledging the progress that Lithuania has made, we invite you to look at the Istanbul Convention as an agreement that domestic violence and violence against women is not acceptable and that it cannot be considered as a private or a family matter.

There is no justification for violence against women. What can be more negative for the cohesion in a country and solidarity amongst its people than domestic violence? How can we build a self-respecting society if emotional or physical traumas experienced at home remain silenced and stigmatised? This is the point of departure that we should all share.

We need to acknowledge that gender-based violence is a serious human rights violation which needs to be addressed accordingly. The Istanbul Convention aims to protect women and girls and ensure a safe living environment. It will help to build a society based on gender equality and equal opportunities for women and men. It is this diversity, freedoms and rights of our democratic societies that we seek to defend and protect.

"How can we build a self-respecting society if emotional or physical traumas experienced at home remain silenced and stigmatised?"

In November last year, European member states co-signed the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020–2024. By signing, we promised to focus on overarching priorities like the protecting and empowering of individuals, building resilient, inclusive and democratic societies, and promoting a global system for human rights and democracy. Let’s consider this action plan as an additional impetus not just to declare that human rights matter, but to take concrete actions to improve everyone’s lives.

The Istanbul Convention has already had a positive impact on women’s lives across Europe.

"It will help to build a society based on gender equality and equal opportunities for women and men."

Calling on governments to prevent violence against women and girls, to protect and help victims and to punish perpetrators, in a comprehensive effort to end such violence, means restoring the dignity of women who have become victims of violence, a value to which the European Court on Human Rights attaches paramount importance.

The Istanbul Convention can play a fundamental role in making a change for women and girls. For a better future, for all.

Resources:

Leaflets and Questions and Answers on the Istanbul Convention – available in 30 languages
Infographics and brochure on the four pillars of the Istanbul Convention: prevention, protection, prosecution and co-ordinated policies
– Council of Europe videos on domestic violence and violence against women
Help lines in Europe


Signed by:

Ms Yvonne Toncic-Sorinj, Ambassador of the Republic of Austria

Mr Luc Jacobs, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium

Mr Hans Brask, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Denmark

Ms Arja Makkonen, Ambassador of the Republic of Finland

Ms Claire Lignieres-Counathe, Ambassador of the French Republic

Mr Matthias Sonn, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany

Mr Dimitrios Xenitellis, Ambassador of Greece

Mr Peter McIvor, Ambassador of Ireland

Mr Diego Ungaro, Ambassador of the Italian Republic

Mr Paul Schmit, Ambassador of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg

Ms Bonnie Horbach, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

Mr Ole T. Horpestad, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway

Mr João Maria Cabral, Ambassador of the Republic of Portugal

Mr José M. Robles Fraga, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain

Mr Inger Buxton, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden

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