MP’s have voted to compel the Government to sign the Istanbul Convention. This is a Council of Europe convention against violence against women and domestic violence. The UK government agreed to sign this in 2012 but have not done so as yet. This bill will force the government to sign the Convention and afford abuse survivors the dignity, respect and support they deserve.
What is the issue?
There is a distinctive lack of laws in place to prevent domestic abuse from happening. There is also a lack of support for abuse survivors, due in part to austerity measures and also a lack of interest in the issue of abuse. Passing specific legislation to outline the rights which abuse survivors are entitled to receive will ensure that the government has to increase support systems.
Why is there a lack of legislation for abuse survivors?
History has shown that the criminal justice system has handled domestic violence in an unsatisfactory way. Both the police and judiciary have been highlighted as having a lack of knowledge and understanding regarding the seriousness of domestic violence. Indeed, existing legislations still suffer from a lack of clarity, and until recently domestic abuse was not recognised as a criminal offence.
Changes in the law show just what has been learnt from domestic violence. Engaging in controlling or coercive behaviour is now an offence. Police have further powers of arrest and the ability to remove a perpetrator via Domestic Violence Protection Notices. They can also apply to the magistrate’s court for an order to prevent the perpetrator from a home for up to 28 days.
Despite changes in the law, implementation is gaining some criticism. Many cases have experienced a negative attitude from the police and this could mean that survivors do not want to report an issue again.
Agreeing to the Istanbul Convention could help to tackle shortfalls and make it easier for local authorities, police and judges to help survivors of domestic violence.