Let's make a promise today to bring an end to violence against women
One of the best promises I have ever made in my life was to a friend of mine a year ago. She shared something with me, that for many years throughout her youth she had been sexually abused by a good friend of her parents. She told her parents but they didn't believe her and it was only years later, at university, that she finally spoke with a councilor, who helped her find ways to recover and reconcile others to the truth. At the stage in her life when we met she had begun the painful process of bringing that man to justice, or whatever justice could be gained so many years on. She asked me to do something as a writer: to write strong girls in my books in the future. She said she wished she had read more about strong women when she was growing up. It is a promise I made and will keep in mind always. It is a small promise that cannot change what she suffered, but can somehow honour the courage she has shown in sharing her story in an attempt to protect others.
Another friend got in touch with me about another promise this week. Robyn Boosey has asked me to share her petition on Opening Lines, a petition that calls upon the UK government to keep their promise to help end violence against women and girls by ratifying the Istanbul Convention.
The Council of Europe simplifies the aims of The Istanbul Convention into four words:
Robyn and Rebecca are adding one more word in the UK, and that is "promise." She and the 600+ followers who have signed her petition call upon the British government to ratify the Convention so it can be put to work in the UK. Robyn says:
"Without ratification the Istanbul Convention has no legal effect. This means we can’t hold the Government to account for not taking action to protect women and girls from violence. At the moment the government is delaying, with no clear timetable for ratification. Every day the Government delays ratification is another day that women and girls are left without the full protection they deserve.
15 countries - including Denmark, France, and Italy - have already ratified the Istanbul Convention and in these countries the Convention is already driving forward significant practical changes to end violence against women and girls. The question really is:
Why hasn’t the UK ratified the Convention yet?"
"Can you imagine if you tried to leave an abusive relationship, but were told there was no space for you at the refuge?
Or if you had been raped and there was no local rape crisis centre to support you?
Or if your genitals were mutilated as a child because no one stopped it from happening?
Thousands of women and girls across the UK find themselves in these situations everyday.
And currently the UK Government cannot be held to account for not providing vital services or introducing laws to protect women and girls against violence. We have an opportunity to change this.
By ratifying the Convention, the UK Government will be legally obliged to prevent all forms of violence against women and girls, protect survivors, and prosecute perpetrators. This includes rape and physical violence, female genital mutilation, stalking, forced abortion, so-called ‘honour’ violence and forced marriage.
Once the Government has ratified the Convention, it will have to provide general and specialist support services for survivors of violence, such as shelters, sexual violence referral centres, psychological support, free 24/7 helplines, and legal aid.
In the UK two women on average are killed by a partner or ex-partner every week. In England and Wales at least 233 women and girls are raped every day and 31% of women have experienced domestic abuse since the age of 16. Despite how common violence against women and girls is, efforts to prevent violence against women and girls are scarce and UK sexual violence and domestic abuse support services are in crisis.
This needs to change urgently.
Let’s take this vital step towards ending violence against women and girls. Please sign our petition telling the UK Government to keep their promise to ratify the Istanbul Convention."
If like me you agree with Robyn and want to sign here petition, please click here.
Thanks for reading.