EU to join international convention combating violence against women

Council of the EU
  • 11/05/2017
  • 10:20
  • Press release
  • 242/17
  • Social affairs
  • Justice
11/05/2017
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Romain Sadet
Press officer (Justice; Corporate communications)
+32 22818914
+32 473865437

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). 

Next steps 

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. 

The Istanbul Convention 

The Istanbul Convention of the Council of Europe is the most comprehensive international treaty on combatting violence against women and domestic violence. The Convention was presented in 2011 and entered into force in August 2014. 

The Istanbul Convention recognises violence against women as a human rights violation. It addresses violence against women through measures aimed at preventing violence, protecting victims, and prosecuting the perpetrators. 

Violence against women in the EU 

Violence against women is a brutal form of discrimination and a violation of human rights which happens in every society and EU country. According to available data: 

  • One in three women in the EU has been a victim of physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15;
  • One in 20 women have been raped;
  • Over half (55%) of women have experienced sexual harassment;
  • One in three women has experienced psychological abusive behaviour by a partner;
  • One in three women has experienced physical or sexual violence by an adult during childhood.