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Ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Combating Violence Against Women and Girls and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) – 2018 Report on Progress

Presented to Parliament pursuant to section 2 of the Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Act 2017

Protecting women and girls from violence and abuse, and supporting victims and survivors remain key priorities for this Government. Violence against women and girls (VAWG) is a serious crime and has a huge impact both for those subjected to such violence and more broadly on our economy, health services, and the criminal justice system. Prevalence of VAWG remains too high; in the UK, 1 in 4 women will experience domestic abuse in her lifetime. Globally this rises to 1 in 3.

The Government signed the Istanbul Convention in 2012 to reaffirm the UK’s strong commitment to tackling VAWG. The Convention consists of 81 articles aimed at tackling VAWG which focus on prevention, protection of victims, prosecution, and integrated policies. As set out in the 2017 Report on Progress, the UK already complies with virtually all of the Convention’s articles. A key element of the Convention is making sure that ratifying states can use their national law to prosecute offences required by the Convention when those offences are committed by their nationals or residents overseas (Article 44). The legal term for powers to allow prosecution in the UK of offences committed overseas is ‘extraterritorial jurisdiction’. Taking extraterritorial jurisdiction over offences required by the Convention that are not currently subject to such jurisdiction requires primary legislation. As indicated below, the necessary legislative measures for England and Wales will be included in the forthcoming draft Domestic Abuse Bill.

Since the 2017 Report on Progress, we have continued to step up our efforts to combat VAWG. In March 2016 we published our cross-Government VAWG Strategy, which sets out our approach to tackling all forms of VAWG, including domestic abuse, so called ‘honour-based’ violence, stalking and sexual violence. The Strategy recognises the gendered nature of these crimes, and commits to continuing to challenge deep-rooted social norms, attitudes and behaviours that discriminate against and limit women and girls across all communities. The Strategy is underpinned by £100m of funding. This session, we will refresh the Strategy to ensure that we are doing all that we can to tackle these crimes which disproportionately affect women. The refresh will reaffirm the Government’s commitment to tackling all forms of VAWG, capture new programmes of work, including the new draft Domestic Abuse Bill, and provide an update on the delivery of existing actions.