Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Sikh and Hindu faith leaders gathered in the House of Lords to launch a joint call for UK Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention on violence against women – and for MPs to support the Istanbul Convention Private Member’s Bill (PMB) by voting for it on 16 December.
The gathering, hosted by Lord McColl and organised by the IC Change campaign for the Istanbul Convention, Restored and Faith Action, follows on from faith leaders’ declaration against domestic abuse launched in 2015.
This call from faith leaders comes as, on average two women in England and Wales are killed every week by a current or former male partner and 85,000 women are raped and more than 400,000 sexually assaulted each year.
Violence against women and girls takes many forms and is widespread in the UK. The Istanbul Convention is the strongest tool in the box that the Government has to respond.
The Convention – aptly described as ‘the best thing you’ve never heard of’ – is a set of life-saving minimum standards on tackling violence against women for a State’s response to the epidemic.
If the UK Government ratified the Istanbul Convention, it would bring unprecedented positive change for women and girls – supporting those experiencing violence, ensuring a stronger prosecution system, and stopping violence from happening in the first place by dealing with its root causes. It would protect funding for domestic violence shelter, rape crisis centres and ensure education on healthy relationships in schools.
The Government promised to make the Convention law over four and a half years ago and it still has not happened.
That’s why faith leaders have united to call on the UK Government to demonstrate its commitment to ending violence against women by making the Istanbul Convention UK law.
More immediately, faith leaders are calling on MPs to attend a debate on 16 December on a life-saving bill for women that would require the UK Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention – and to vote in its favour. And they are asking people across the UK to write to their MPs to ask them to do this. Please find details below on how you can get involved!
Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester, says: ‘Violence against women is an injustice and a violation against the dignity of human beings made in the image of God that the Church must speak out on. The Istanbul Convention provides a strong, practical framework to help us tackle the issue comprehensively in a way that has never been done before’.
‘As faith leaders it is our duty to combat the menace of domestic abuse in our society. We must show unity to call our leaders to do whatever it takes to protect the most vulnerable people in the society,’ Abdullah Hasan, Imams against Domestic Abuse.
This December we have a rare opportunity to change the individual stories of women and girls across the UK who face violence every day and secure this vital protection from violence for them.
Rabbi Sybil Sheridan, adds: ‘We urgently need a stronger framework in which to combat such evils, to make people more aware, to enable us to combat it, to prosecute the perpetrators and prevent its recurrence. This is exactly what the Convention provides’
Faith leaders are calling on people to support this bill by writing to their MP and asking them to go to the debate and vote for the bill.
So what can you do to get involved?
We need to make sure that 100 MPs turn up to Parliament to support it so that it can pass on to the next stage.
However, the 16th December is on a Friday morning – a time when many MPs would normally be in their local constituencies. That’s why we need your help to it’s essential for to contact your MP and to tell them why it’s so important for them show up and support the Bill.
Please write to your MP or arrange to meet them to ask them to attend the debate on 16 December and vote in favour of the Istanbul Convention bill.
You can find all the resources you need here on the IC Change website, including a template letter to help you write to your MP and top tips for meeting your MP. Let IC Change know at email@example.com if your MP says yes.
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