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Wednesday 21.03.2018 | Name days: Una, Unigunde, Dzelme, Benedikts

European Parliament: all EU member states should ratify Istanbul Convention

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUDuring debates with EU commissioner Andrus Ansip, members of the European Parliament invite all EU member states to ratify the Istanbul Convention, as BNN was informed by EP Information Office in Latvia.

So far the convention has not been ratified by 11 EU member states – Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Slovakia and the United Kingdom.

The majority of MEPs voiced disappointment with the fact that these countries – including EU Council’s presiding country Bulgaria – do not consider the aforementioned convention as a worthwhile tool to combat violence against women. They mentioned that the unwillingness to ratify the convention is often associated with the misleading understanding of the way the word gender is used in the convention.

Several MEPs also sharply criticized the ‘ideological luggage’ of the convention and the definition of gender in it. They emphasized that this matter is not in EU’s competence and invited respecting the «order established in every society».

Ansip emphasized that the goal of the convention is preventing violence against women. He added there are no other hidden agendas. He mentioned that all countries will eventually learn to appreciate the convention: helping women who suffer from violence.

The Istanbul Convention is a comprehensive international agreement to help prevent violence against women. It was approved in 2011. The document came into force in August 2014. The European Union signed it in June 2017.

According to information from the European Commission, every third woman in the EU has suffered physical or sexual abuse of some kind. More than half of women have experienced sexual harassment and every tenth woman has suffered rape.

BNN had previously reported that after nearly two years of gathering signatures, has gathered 10,000 signatures against Latvia’s joining of the Istanbul Convention.

According to the author of the initiative On Latvia’s non-joining of the Istanbul Convention Andris Šimfs, by not joining the convention, Latvia would avoid unpleasant changes in society’s perception. It would help preserve values detailed in the Constitution and protect residents from enforcement of socially constructed gender forms as detailed in the convention.

Recognizing that violence in society and family is a serious problem in need of resolving, Šimfs believes the Istanbul Convention does not offer any major measures to help prevent violence, which is something Latvia’s legislation already covers. Putting the convention on top would cause a considerable financial, organizational and ideological pressure.

The author of the initiative invites the Saeima to not ratify the convention.

It is also worth mentioning that among all coalition factions in Saeima only Unity has so far expressed support in favour of ratification of the Istanbul Convention.

Justice Minister Dzintars Rasnačs is confident that ratification of the convention would force Latvia to introduce a social gender construct. According to the minister, ratification of the convention would force member states to change their education and healthcare systems and other fields, which is in the competence of national governments.

Welfare Minister Jānis Reirs believes arguments for which it is not possible to find documented justifications are being used against the convention. Foreign Affairs Ministry has noted that Latvia is a European Union member states and is therefore has the responsibility to not hinder the ratification process of the Istanbul Convention.


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