ISTANBUL CONVENTION- PREVENTION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

WHAT IMPACT DOES THE ISTANBUL CONVENTION HAVE ON PREVENTION OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN? A COMPERATIVE PERSPECTIVE

Violence against women is an act that causes physical, mental, social, sexual and economic harm, suffering, loss of dignity, loss of self-confidence and continuing discrimination against women, whether in public or private life. Women are more commonly subjected to violence by the person(s) whom they expect love and respect in their home “within the family”, which is considered to be the place where they are most protected. Unless the problem of violence against women and domestic violence is resolved, it will not be possible to achieve equality between women and men and to close the on going gap between private and public spaces for women. The inadequate representation of women in decision-making positions prevents permanent solutions to protect the victim and prevent violence. Today, violence against women and domestic violence are considered as social problems, protective and preventive laws are enacted, and international conventions are signed. As one of the most important of these international agreements is the Istanbul convention, in this article, I will discuss the effects of this agreement in the context of preventing violence against women from a comparative perspective.

First of all, it is better to explain feminist theory in order to emphasized the violence against women. The main issue is whether the legal norms are written in accordance with the principle of equality as well as whether their practices are compatible with the idea of ​​equality. The prohibition of discrimination and the principle of equality can be regarded as positive and negative aspects of the prohibition of differential treatment. Mary Joe Frug a feminist legal theorist, states that legal norms and their interpretation of gender codes by male jurists transform the female body by differentiating it from the male body. [1]Thus, feminist legal theory has changed the writing and evaluation phase of legal norms on women's rights in many ways. The elimination of regulations that create discrimination against women from the legal system is also supported by regulations that provide special protection for women, thus ensuring the principle of equality before the law.

One of the issues we talked about in the course of the feminist criticism was that they ignored the fact that women were historically excluded from the public sphere in terms of traditional and liberal approaches to international human rights law. The most serious violations of women's rights take place in the private sphere. These areas are either in family life or in marriage. According to Mackinnon, being a woman is not yet the name of being a human, even in the most advanced human rights documents. Women need full human status in 'social reality'. [2]

Before explaining the importance of Istanbul Convention I would like to give brief information about history of women’s rights. Although violence against women, especially domestic violence is not a new phenomenon, it has become a current issue after the 1970s to perceive it as a problem and to initiate efforts to prevent it. CEDAW [3]is focuses on discrimination against women as a particular and serious form of human rights violation. This commission's general Recommendation No. 19 on violence against women helped to recognize gender-based violence against women as a form of discrimination.

As we mentioned in the course, one of the most important criticisms made about this agreement is that even the issue of women in all areas of life is addressed there is no clear regulation on violence against women. As a matter of fact, men are included in the subject of human rights in the text of the contract, and a provision is not included in an important issue such as violence against women, which regards women as the element to be equated with this subject. [4]On June 2009, the European Court of Human Rights for the first time a state to take necessary measures on violence within the family and decided to pay compensation due to inability to protect women victims. [5]The unanimous decision of the ECHR was set a precedent for 47 countries.

Violence is seen in all areas of human presence, at every stage of daily life. Violence against women cannot be based on a single cause. Elements such as the communication structure of the society, sovereignty and power can be the source of violence. In order to understand this phenomenon and to produce systematic solutions, it is necessary to determine the reasons causing violence. [6] The greatest impact of violence on an individual is seen on the family. Women are the biggest victims of domestic violence. Perhaps the most important reason why the problem of violence against women comes to the fore in the international arena is the difficulties in revealing the existence of these acts.

According to Goldfarb, violence against women should be perceived not as an individual but as a systematic problem. [7]The concept of violence in the reports prepared by the World Health Organization (WHO); it is defined as the acts that cause injury, death and psychological damage to the person exposed to physical pressure, force or threat against a person, a group or a community, or that are likely to cause such harm. [8]

The Istanbul Convention, which was opened for signature by the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers in Istanbul on May 11, 2011, is the first convention in international law that has the power to sanction violence against women and domestic violence. In this contract, which is binding for the first time and emphasizing that violence against women is a violation of human rights [9], a regulation has been made for the establishment of an independent inspection mechanism. In the Convention, it is emphasized that violence is a result of inequality between men and women. The contract will support both the strengthening of and the elimination of the discrimination regulated in CEDAW to ensure equality thus it ‘further develops’ [10]the CEDAW standards.

It is emphasize that the Convention is organized in order to create a Europe where violence against women and domestic violence have been ended. In the convention, there is a comprehensive prevention, protection, prosecution and policy of establishing victim support mechanisms were included in order to create a legal framework. The Convention, which is the first international binding legal document in this regard, was opened for signature and ratification by countries other than the Council of Europe. The convention prevents all women from violence, regardless of their marital status’ protection of victims' rights and including sexual identity, sexual orientation in taking precautions foresees no discrimination. Effective cooperation of all relevant institutions and organizations for combating violence, including civil society in the implementation of measures, and financial and human resources are stipulated to be allocates adequately.

In the convention, there are violence, applications and measures taken collecting the disaggregated statistical data regarding the subjects and their transmission to the experts group to be established. It is almost a roadmap for the prevention of violence drawn and awareness raising, training of experts, preventive intervention issues such as treatment programs, private sector and media support, psychological and legal support services, establishment of shelters, opening emergency hotlines, protection for child witnesses, compensation for bodily injuries, legal aid services have been regulated in detail. Especially by establishing a monitoring mechanism (called GREVIO), the group of experts will monitor the implementation of the convention by the states parties, which will increase the binding power and sanction power of it.

While the concepts of violence against women and domestic violence are defined in articles 3-a and 3-b of the Convention, economic as well as physical, sexual and psychological violence is one of the forms of violence against women has been defined. On the other hand, the convention is the first international document defining gender. All kinds of violent incidents within the scope of the convention are communicated with the victims and perpetrators in a comprehensive and accurate manner, as soon as they are reported to the relevant institutions. It is an obligation to establish cooperation between institutions and organizations and to provide necessary training in this regard in order to ensure their attention and to ensure the effectiveness of the measures.

According to the 17th article of the convention, the states parties are obliged to provide and support both the media and the private sector to formulate policies to strengthen the role of women in society. In this cooperation, the states parties are obliged to take the necessary measures and provide guidance on how to combat with tools that provide access to content that may be harmful, such as sexuality, violent humiliation and violence. In addition, convention is already having a positive impact on women's lives all over Europe. Governments are expected to prevent violence against women, protect and support victims, and punish perpetrators in a far-reaching effort to eradicate violence against women. According to the European Court of Human Rights, it is aimed to place the efforts to restore the dignity of women, which is an extremely important value, and to give women basic human rights, at the center of the state policy.

In a more general context, the Istanbul Convention has been a driving force in producing better policies, services and discourses around the themes of violence against women and girls and how to support and empower them. Those from all levels of profession have benefited from this new power and their awareness on the subject has increased. There is a real need to act on this issue. The eradication of violence against women should be an aim that unites us all. With the Istanbul Convention, important changes in legislation have been initiated and implemented, new and better services have been created for victims, resources have been allocated for this purpose and training efforts have been intensified.

Considering the concrete examples that can be given from the countries implementing the convention examples, these can be shown as the adoption of legislation containing new definitions of harassment and sexual harassment, basing rape on the basis of non-consent rather than proving the use of force, and referral of victims to a multidisciplinary team to provide support to victims. In this way, it will be possible to establish shelters with national emergency help lines and public funds that direct them to the closest counsel services for victims 24/7, which was not provided before. In addition, the inclusion of the subject of violence against women in the curriculum of different university undergraduate programs (law, medicine, nursing, psychology, social studies, etc.) and special training for judges, prosecutors and lawyers to improve women's access to protection and legal solutions.

The main way to eliminate the de facto inequality of men and women and the violence against women that has emerged as a result of this history is to provide positive support to disadvantaged women and to offer temporary social opportunities to remove social, cultural and economic barriers. Improving the social conditions of women will bring about an increase in social consciousness.

In conclusion, violence against women, including domestic violence, is still known worldwide as one of the most serious forms of gender-based violations of human rights, but is also an underestimated phenomenon that affects many families. The eradication of violence against women and thus discrimination, in order to achieve equality of women and men in a broader sense it is necessary to know more about the form of violence against women. In this context, the Istanbul Convention, for the first time in Europe, has set legally binding standards to prevent violence against women and domestic violence, protect victims and punish their perpetrators and encourages parties to expand the protection of their victims by filling an important gap in the protection of women's human rights.





BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Primary Sources:

Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women And Domestic Violence 2011 (Council of Europe)

UN General Assembly, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women 1979 (United Nations, Treaty Series)

Opuz v Turkey [2009] Council of Europe: European Court of Human Rights 33401/02

Secondary Sources:

Catherine A. Mackinnon, Are Women Human? And Other International Dialogues (Harvard University Press 2006)

Dubravka Simonovic, ‘Global and Regional Standards on Violence against Women: The Evolution and Synergy of the CEDAW and Istanbul Conventions’ (2014) 36 Hum Rts Q

Elisabeth M. Schneider, Battered Women and Feminist Law Making (Yale University Press 2000)

Krug EG and others, ‘World Report on Violence and Health, World Health Organization’ (World Health Organization 2002)

Mary Joe Frug, ‘A Postmodern Feminist Legal Manifesto’ (1992) 105 Harvard Law Review 129

Otto D, Buss Doris, and Manji Ambreeana, Disconcerting ‘Masculinities’: Reinventing the Gendered Subject(s) of International Human Rights Law (Hart Publishing 2005)

Sally F. Goldfarb, ‘Applying the Discrimination Model of Violence Against Women: Some Reflections on Theory and Practice’ (2003) 11 Journal of Gender, Social Policy and Law 254

[1] Mary Joe Frug, ‘A Postmodern Feminist Legal Manifesto’ (1992) 105 Harvard Law Review 129.

[2] Catherine A. Mackinnon, Are Women Human? And Other International Dialogues (Harvard University Press 2006).

[3] UN General Assembly, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women 1979 (United Nations, Treaty Series).

[4] Dianne Otto, Buss Doris, and Manji Ambreeana, Disconcerting ‘Masculinities’: Reinventing the Gendered Subject(s) of International Human Rights Law (Hart Publishing 2005).

[5] Opuz v Turkey [2009] Council of Europe: European Court of Human Rights 33401/02.

[6] Elisabeth M. Schneider, Battered Women and Feminist Law Making (Yale University Press 2000).

[7] Sally F. Goldfarb, ‘Applying the Discrimination Model of Violence Against Women: Some Reflections on Theory and Practice’ (2003) 11 Journal of Gender, Social Policy and Law 254.

[8] Etienne G Krug and others, ‘World Report on Violence and Health, World Health Organization’ (World Health Organization 2002).

[9] Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women And Domestic Violence 2011 (Council of Europe).

[10] Dubravka Simonovic, ‘Global and Regional Standards on Violence against Women: The Evolution and Synergy of the CEDAW and Istanbul Conventions’ (2014) 36 Hum Rts Q.

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