Human Rights Day

Thursday 10th December

For the final blog in our 16 Days of Activism series, Women’s Aid patron, Julie Walters asks you to join us in calling on the government to protect women’s human rights.

“You may not know it, but today is Human Rights Day. You may be lucky enough not to have even thought about your human rights today, because you feel free and safe.

We tend to think that human rights violations only happen far away, but actually they are much closer to home than we realise. Every year, there are hundreds of thousands of women and children who do not feel free in their own homes, whose human rights are being violated every day through fear and violence.

Abuse in the home is often hidden, we do not see the scale of the problem because it usually happens behind closed doors, in homes just like mine and yours. Many suffer in silence, afraid to speak out, and unable to escape.

Domestic abuse is a human rights issue and, as a Patron of Women’s Aid, I want to ask you today to do something to help.

First I’ll start with the good news – last year Europe made a landmark commitment to uphold the right to protect women from domestic abuse. The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Eliminating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, known as the Istanbul Convention, is the first legally binding international treaty to address violence against women and domestic violence in Europe. This recognises violence against women as a violation of human rights, which is a massive leap forward for Europe. The treaty came into force on the 1st August 2014, and it’s just brilliant.

It means that governments across Europe sign up to:

  • preventing violence and gender stereotypes through awareness-raising, training and education;
  • protecting the rights of victims through policy change and provide specialist services such as refuges to support them;
  • criminalising the many forms of violence against women and prosecute the perpetrators; and
  • working with other countries to tackle violence against women and girls internationally.

Now for the bad news, and this is where I need your help – this treaty is only implemented if each individual country ratifies it, and ours hasn’t.

David Cameron made a commitment back in January 2014 to ratify the treaty, but he didn’t do it. In March 2015 he confirmed that the coalition Government would not ratify the Istanbul Convention before the general election.

Since the election and change in government, there has been no progress in getting the treaty ratified. We need you to join us in calling on David Cameron to stand by his pledge to protect the human rights of women, so no one has to endure violence and domestic abuse.

Other countries have beaten us to it, with France, Slovenia, Albania and Serbia all ratifying the treaty. We believe there is no reason why our government should further delay something which will help prevent domestic abuse and protect those experiencing it.

Take action

Please join us by tweeting the government today, and asking David Cameron to stand by his words, and protect abused women’s human rights:

Tweet now: “@number10gov @ukhomeoffice words have a time limit – act now to protect women’s human rights & ratify the #IstanbulConvention http://bit.ly/1HW8qSi

Thank you – together we can make a difference.

Learn more about The Istanbul Convention

Julie WaltersAbout the author

Julie Walters, the award winning actor and writer, became a Women’s Aid patron in 2004 in support of our 30th Birthday year activities. Recently Julie has voiced our Radio 4 Invisible Prison appeal in February 2015 and in May 2015, supported our Give me Shelter campaign with the Sun newspaper.

About 16 Days

From 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, Women’s Aid will release a blog a day, encouraging people to take action and use their influence to help raise the status of women to a level where violence against them is no longer tolerated. Read more blogs from the series

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