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Bill to end violence against women and girls becomes UK law

2nd May 2017

New law to end violence against women and girls

A Bill put forward to implement the most comprehensive legal framework to end violence against women and girls became an Act of Parliament last week. This new law requires the government to set a timeline for the ratification of the Istanbul Convention and to report annually on its progress.

The UK initially pledged to implement the Istanbul Convention five years ago. As a result of the slow progress, charities and campaigners condemned the government for its apparent lack of commitment. A total of 44 countries signed the convention and many have already ratified it.

Once implemented, the Istanbul Convention will protect women’s refuge housing and domestic abuse services across the UK and will tackle issues including sexual violence and FGM. The convention works by preventing violence, protecting women and girls who are experiencing violence and prosecuting violence. Those working in legal roles can expect to see updates on this new law in the forthcoming year.

Despite being labelled the ‘gold standard’ of legislation on gender-based violence, progress of the Istanbul Convention Bill was threatened by Conservative MP Philip Davies, who attempted to “talk out” the Bill to prevent it from being passed on to the next stage, a process known as filibustering. However his attempts failed and with cross-party support, the bill progressed, finally receiving Royal Assent on April 28th.

In response to the Bill's success, campaign group IC Change said: “This success was the result of the hard work of Dr Eilidh Whiteford and supporting MPs from across all parties as well as the coalition of fantastic organisations and individual supporters.

“The campaign is far from over – as the UK government has not yet ratified the Istanbul Convention – but this is a huge step towards this."