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    • BCSP stands with European organizations defending the Istanbul Convention

    • Date: 25 April 2018

      BCSP supports the action taken by the the European Coalition to End Violence against Women to protect the text of the Instabul Convetion from changes demanded recently by several hundred European right-wing and conservative organizations. The letter sent to Secretary General of the Council of Europe as a reaction was signed by 3800 organizations.






      Signatories from Serbia:

      European Women’s Lobby members

      1. Autonomous Women’s Centre, Belgrade / Autonomni ženski centar, Beograd
      2. Association of Women Sandglass, Krusevac / Udruženje žena Peščanik, Kruševac
      3. Women in Black, Belgrade / Žene u crnom, Beograd
      4. Roma Women’s Centre BIBIJA, Belgrade / Romski ženski centar Bibija, Beograd
      5. Organization for Lesbian Human Rights LABRIS, Belgrade / Labris, Beograd
      6. Women’s Studies Center, Belgrade / Centar za ženske studije, Beograd
      7. Association of Roma, Novi Bečej / Udruženje roma, Novi Bečej
      8. „...Out of the Cirlce“, Belgrade - NGO supporting women with disabilities / „... Iz kruga“, Beograd
      9. Women Space, Nis / Ženski prostor, Niš
      10. Womens studies and research, Novi Sad / Ženske studije i istraživanja, Novi Sad


      1. Association of Women Femplatz, Pancevo / Udruženje gradjanki FemPlatz, Pančevo
      2. ASTRA - Anti traficking action, Belgrade / ASTRA, Beograd
      3. BeFem - culture & action, Belgrade / BeFem - kultura i akcija, Beograd
      4. Belgrade Centre for Security Policy / Beogradski centar za bezbednosnu politiku
      5. Viktimology Society of Serbia, Belgrade / Viktimološko društvo Srbije, Beograd
      6. Women's Alliance for Development, Nikšić / Ženska alijansa za razvoj, Nikšić
      7. Women's Forum of Prijepolje / Forum žena Prijepolja


      You can read the letter in full:

      “We, the European Coalition to End Violence against Women, write to you today, in this important time of political discussion, to reaffirm our full support for and confidence in the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence, the Istanbul Convention.

      The European Coalition to End Violence against Women is an extensive strategic alliance of more than 25 cross-European human rights and social justice civil society organisations, convened by the European Women’s Lobby, working collectively to ensure that women and girls across Europe can live their lives free from all forms of violence. The Coalition is joined by a number of supporting civil society organisations in this call, to highlight the vast amount of support for the Istanbul Convention; our collective voice represents over 3,835 NGOs in 49 countries.

      The European Coalition to End Violence against Women and Girls and associated members believe that the Istanbul Convention is the most comprehensive treaty tackling violence against women and domestic violence in Europe. The Istanbul Convention provides effective and proactive measures to prevent violence against women, protect victims, prosecute perpetrators and contribute to the elimination of multiple forms of discrimination against women. The Convention is a key tool for improving legislation and policies as it provides national governments with the necessary framework to protect all of their citizens from violence.

      It has recently come to our attention that a letter has been sent to you recommending changes to the text of the Convention. The rationale outlined in that letter is based on deliberate misrepresentation of the Convention and is not supported by the conclusions of the Convention’s explanatory report. As reiterated by the Executive Secretary of the Istanbul Convention, Mrs. Bridget O’Loughlin, the only purpose of the Convention is to “prevent violence and prosecute perpetrators.” The European Coalition to End Violence against Women strongly disagrees with the recommendations brought forth in the recent letter you received and provides factual clarification as follows:

      1) The letter argues that under Article 3c, the Convention advances a definition of “gender” as a social construct, which differs from the definition of “gender equality” used in the EU Treaties. This interpretation, however, is incorrect; the explanatory report of the Convention reiterates that the use of the term “gender” in the Convention text is not intended to replace the terms for “women” and “men”. The article in question expressly states, “gender shall mean the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for women and men.” Defining constructed gender roles does not in any way contradict the concept of gender equality. We believe that gender equality can only be achieved if we take into consideration how societies attribute specific roles, behaviours and activities as appropriate for either men or women.

      2) Regarding the reference to the Convention articles on education, the letter presents a clear misrepresentation of State Party obligations to provide teaching materials. Article 14 expressly states that the materials should include issues such as “equality between women and men, non-stereotyped  gender roles, mutual respect, non-violent conflict resolution in interpersonal relationships, gender- based violence against women and the right to personal integrity.” Education remains a sustained  measure of prevention that addresses root causes of violence against women. The goal is to change attitudes, gender roles and stereotypes that make violence against women acceptable.

      3) The letter recommends enabling State Parties to provide reservations to the Convention, specifically on “controversial and ideological parts of the Convention.” We recall that reservations to the Convention are generally not permissible under Article 78 and this provision explicitly outlines the specific Articles that may be subject to State reservations, namely Article 30, paragraph 2 (on award of adequate compensation); Article 44, paragraphs 1.e, 3 and 4 (on jurisdiction); Article 55, paragraph 1 in respect of Article 35 regarding minor offences (on ex part proceedings); Article 58 in respect of Articles 37, 38 and 39 (on statute of limitations); and Article 59 (on residence status). Reservations to any of the other provisions of the Convention can be considered contrary to its object and purpose and are therefore not permissible.

      The European Coalition urges the Council of Europe not to initiate or support any changes to the text of the Convention that would allow States parties to enter additional reservations. Such reservations would weaken the core provisions of the Convention, which aim to protect victims of violence, to prevent gender-based violence and to make sure perpetrators are held accountable for their actions. If any of such measures are considered by State Parties as "controversial and ideological" and excluded, the aim of the treaty cannot be achieved in their respective States.

      The European Coalition to End Violence against Women urges the Council of Europe to undertake efforts to dispel mischaracterizations of the Convention and its aims in various member states. We also urge all member states of the Council of Europe and the European Union to ratify the Istanbul Convention as soon as possible.

      It is vitally important that the progress already made be continued, to prevent the situation for women and girls from becoming increasingly more severe. The Coalition will continue to advocate for the effective implementation of the Istanbul Convention, which will truly make a difference in the lives of the over 400 million women across Europe. All women and girls deserve a life free from violence and have a right to safety.“

      Related topics:gender, gender and security
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