David Cameron has been accused of “stalling” over agreeing a Europe-wide convention to tackle violence against women and girls amid a controversial pick-up artist who advocates legalising rape abandoning plans to come to the UK.
The Scottish National Party has written to the Prime Minister urging him to ratify the Istanbul Convention, despite the UK signing up to the “gold standard” four years ago and it coming into force in 2014.
The Convention legislates for the coordination of policies between government, local authorities and charities. The delay has been blamed on ensuring the UK has the jurisdiction over offences committed abroad against women by UK nationals, but critics say funding cuts mean the Government would not be able implement the Convention fully. The Convention has been ratified by 19 countries - including Albania, Serbia and Turkey.
The letter, written by SNP MP Gavin Newlands, has been signed by several different women’s rights groups.
SNP MP Gavin Newlands: “Tackling and ending the violence that many women face on a daily basis is an issue that unites the Parliament, however we should not allow that level of consensus to foster complacency."
It comes as Daryush Valizadeh, who goes by the name of “Roosh V”, last week cancelled a series of events in the UK, including in Edinburgh and Glasgow, following widespread condemnation. His ‘neo-masculinist’ ideology includes supporting legalising rape on private property. The prospect of his arrival prompted an urgent question in the House of Commons.
Mr Newlands, who led a Westminster debate on the role of men in preventing violence against women last week, has called on the UK Government to set a date for ratification of the Convention and to commit to working with women’s and other relevant organisations to build on the government’s work to date.
His letter has been signed by White Ribbon UK, Scottish Women’s Aid, Women’s Aid UK, End Violence Against Women Coalition, Engender, iChange, No More Page 3, Rape Crisis Scotland and Zero Tolerance.
He said: “David Cameron must stop stalling on this vital piece of legislation. The UK government can and must do more to end violence against women, and I am calling on him today to ensure there is cooperation between Government, local authorities and charities.
“Despite all the positive work that has taken place in ending the violence that many women experience on a daily basis, it should shame and anger us all that 1 in 4 women in the UK will still experience some form of violence at some point in their lives.
“Tackling and ending the violence that many women face on a daily basis is an issue that unites the Parliament, however we should not allow that level of consensus to foster complacency. The UK Government is doing a lot of work in this area but there is more that can be done to tackle the scourge of violence against women.
“As a society we have made a lot of progress on this issue but still too many women are living in violent relationships and the comments made by pro-rapist Roosh V highlights the long journey that we’ve still got to travel to end the violence that women face on a daily basis.
“I urge the UK Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention and ensure that we continue to introduce a series of preventative measures that will tackle and eradicate domestic violence from our society, and in doing so send a clear message that any form of violence against women will not be tolerated.”
A Government spokesperson said: "The previous Government signed the Istanbul Convention to show the strong commitment it placed on tackling violence against women and girls - and this Government remains committed to ratifying it.
“We already comply with the vast majority of the Convention's articles, and will continue to work towards ratification.”