Will the Istanbul Convention of the Council of Europe be in Ukraine?

Online petition about the Istanbul Convention to the President of Ukraine got enough votes to get under consideration. It calls for ratification of the Council of Europe Convention action against violence against women and domestic violence. The petition was published on the President’s website on 24 February, and by today it has been supported by over 40 public organizations and over 26 thousand people.

The Istanbul Convention was adopted on 11, May in 2011 and became the first obligatory European paper that implements a complex approach to overcoming violence against women. Despite the fact Ukraine signed the Convention on 7th November 2011, it is still not ratified in our country. But there are a few positive steps yet: in 2017 Ukrainian parliament adopted the law “About overcoming domestic violence” and implemented some states of the Istanbul convention into the Criminal code. European Union and Council of Europe call for the Ukrainian parliament not to hesitate and promote the ratification of the Convention “Against violence against women and domestic violence”.

The People’s deputies of inter-fractional parliamentary association “Equal opportunities” are slightly optimistic in their opinions about the successful completing of the public initiative. However, they predict discussions about the Istanbul Convention ratification to be complicated and the initiative to gain resistance from a significant number of MPs. It is worth mentioning that the bill for ratification of the Istanbul Convention was declined in the Ukrainian parliament in 2016. “Despite there are 21% of women in this Parliament, it is still more diverse than the previous one. Getting 25 000 people signed the petition is only one side of the situation – the other challenge is to explain to deputies the necessity of this ratification”, – says Olena Kondratiuk, Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada and co-chair of inter-fractional association “Equal opportunities”.

Inna Sovsun, another co-chair of the above-mentioned association defines the fear to admit domestic violence in public as the main obstacle for ratification. “Convention is a mechanism of admitting domestic violence as a big public problem. Unfortunately, people think that everything from home remains at home. But when a woman or kids are beaten at home that is not only their problem – it is about troubles in society. And when we are ready to talk about this in public – it is a marker. We – as a society – still do not have the language to talk about that. We must change our public values. The Istanbul Convention is about all those things. And it’s a pity that there is such a high level of resistance to these ideas in Ukrainian society, especially in religious organizations, despite they are not okay with domestic violence too”, – she mentions.

Maria Ionova, co-chair of “Equal opportunities”, supports her colleagues: “We have to implement the approach used by our international partners and spread the information about gender equality. The idea (when we talk about the terms and statements of the Convention) must prevail in the stereotypes. Unfortunately, the lockdown and quarantine made the situation with domestic violence worse. Ratification of the Convention could help to counteract suffering and implement all the necessary mechanisms».