Ten years after signing the Istanbul Convention, the UK government ratified it on 21st July 2022, with the convention coming into force on 1 November 2022. The convention sets minimum standards for a state’s approach to addressing violence against women and girls, covering protection, prosecution, prevention, and integrated policies. It is internationally commended as the ‘gold standard’ approach.
A year on, the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) will be evaluating the extent to which the UK government is meeting its duties under the convention. In addition to the government’s own assessment of their progress, GREVIO have asked a coalition of VAWG sector experts, including Respect, to coordinate and submit a report to aid their evaluation.
The report welcomes the government’s restated commitment to tackling violence against women and girls, but also draws attention to critical gaps between their commitment and the realities faced by women experiencing violence and abuse.
The report makes a range of recommendations, drawing on the expertise of specialist VAWG sector organisations, as well as the recently published VAWG sector manifesto. Respect’s key recommendations in the report include:
- Ensuring quality assured perpetrator responses are consistently available, addressing risks from primary prevention (like bystander responses and awareness raising communication campaigns) to early intervention and behaviour change group work, to specialist responses for the most dangerous and serial perpetrators.
- Supporting effective survivor-centred quality assurance systems for perpetrator work which ensure that interventions funded by public sector agencies are always accredited, designed to keep survivors and their children safe, and delivered alongside survivor support provided by specialist VAWG organisations.
- Pursuing a whole systems approach including well-publicised, well-funded and accessible helplines for those using harmful behaviour.
- Ensuring better alignment between civil and criminal systems so family courts do not place child victims of domestic abuse in the home of the abuser.
- Delivering effective leadership and multi-agency arrangements, ensuring all government departments and public services are actively holding perpetrators to account, that professionals are trained to identify and respond to perpetrators, and there are clear pathways into safe and effective perpetrator interventions.