Increase in cases of violence against women during the COVID-19 pandemic

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, a dramatic increase has been reported in recorded cases of violence against women and domestic violence, both worldwide and in Council of Europe member states.

The Committee of the Parties to the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (“Istanbul Convention”) has issued a declaration, calling on States that have ratified the Convention to refer to its standards and recommendations as a source of guidance for governmental action during the pandemic.

The Committee of the Parties to the Istanbul Convention recognizing the challenges that Council of Europe member states are facing to protect their populations from the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, having consulted and sought the expertise of the Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO): 

  • Recalls that the principles and the requirements of the Istanbul Convention provide a framework for devising and implementing measures to ensure equality between women and men and to counter violence against women and domestic violence, which applies at all times and takes on further significance under the ongoing public emergency caused by the outbreak of COVID-19; 
  • Underlines the obligation of states party to the Istanbul Convention to exercise due diligence to prevent, investigate, punish and provide reparation for acts of violence covered therein, in accordance with their obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights; 2 
  • Welcomes the approach of those states which are seeking innovative ways to adapt their institutional responses to violence in the light of the current context and calls upon states parties to uphold their undertakings under the Istanbul Convention and to fortify measures taken to this end; 
  • Drawsstates parties’ attention to the selection of provisions of the Istanbul Convention in the annex to the present declaration, which offers examples of possible action and measures to take while facing the pandemic;
  • Acknowledges the need to pursue exchanges and co-operation among the members and observers of the Committee to address the long-term impact and any fallout of the ongoing crisis on victims of violence against women and domestic violence, whilst ensuring full adherence to the principles and requirements of the Istanbul Convention and guaranteeing a victim-centred and human rights-based approach to such violence.

Specific examples of how to react to the rise in cases of violence against women – largely drawn from initiatives which State parties are currently putting into practice – are provided in the Annex to the declaration.

Please find the declaration here: https://rm.coe.int/declaration-committee-of-the-parties-to-ic-covid-/16809e33c6n-cases-of-violence-against-women 

References from the official website of the Council of Europe