The Istanbul Convention is an important tool in efforts to stop men’s violence against women

Published

On 11 May 2021, the Swedish Government will join the international celebrations to mark the 10th anniversary of the Istanbul Convention. The Istanbul Convention is the informal name of the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.

“Men’s violence against women affects women and girls around the world and here at home in Sweden. It affects individuals and the society as a whole. This violence prevents the enjoyment of human rights, gender equality, development and freedom. The Swedish Government is therefore working to encourage more countries to ratify the Istanbul Convention,” says Minister for Gender Equality and Housing Märta Stenevi.

A historical document

The Istanbul Convention recognises violence against women as a violation of human rights. It condemns all forms of violence against women and describes this violence as an expression of a historical imbalance of power between women and men. When the Convention was open for signature in 2011, it was the most comprehensive human rights convention in its field and the first legally binding regional instrument on violence against women in Europe. All countries that have ratified the Istanbul Convention must adopt legislation on matters such as rape, sexual harassment, female genital mutilation, honour-based violence and oppression and forced marriage.

“The Istanbul Convention can have a real impact in the countries that ratify it. It represents an important basis for Sweden’s efforts to prevent and combat men’s violence against women, and is a key component in the Government’s national strategy in these efforts,” says Ms Stenevi.

The Government has tasked the Swedish Gender Equality Agency with disseminating information about the Istanbul Convention in Sweden. The mandate instructs the Agency to spread awareness among municipalities, regions and relevant government agencies about the Council of Europe’s recommendations concerning Sweden’s compliance with the Istanbul Convention.

Monitoring compliance with the Convention in Sweden

Ratification of the Convention brings with it obligations to comply with the Convention’s requirements concerning prevention, protection, prosecution and coordinated policies in the efforts to combat men’s violence against women. In September 2017, the Government submitted a report on Swedish conditions and initiatives to comply with the Istanbul Convention to the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO).

GREVIO’s 2019 evaluation report points out the advantage of Sweden considering violence against women to be a fundamental challenge for gender equality and holds Sweden up as a leading country in gender equality policy. GREVIO presents a total of 41 recommendations to Sweden on further improvements they consider necessary. The Government has until January 2022 to report on how the recommendations have been dealt with in Sweden.

Ratification of the Istanbul Convention

In 2011, the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention, was open for signature. Sweden signed the Convention immediately, and ratified it in 2014. The Istanbul Convention has been ratified by 34 of the Council of Europe’s 47 Member States.