Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The Council of the EU should immediately ratify the human rights treaty preventing and combating sexual violence against women along with domestic violence. Yesterday, the European Parliament passed a report calling on the Council to ratify the Convention by a qualified majority. As the Court of Justice of the EU confirmed in 2021, it is not necessary to wait for all EU member states. However, the report also urges the six remaining member states, including the Czech Republic, to ratify the text.
The Convention explained
There has been some controversy and misinformation surrounding the Convention not only in Czech society. In fact, the treaty by the Council of Europe presents a unified European approach to the protection of women and other groups against domestic and sexualized violence. It aims to eliminate the prejudices as well as social inequalities between women and men that are frequently the source of violence.
Originally, the document was created as a reaction to the heartbreaking fact that large numbers of women are victims of domestic violence, sexualized violence, and cruelty. Nonetheless, the treaty also aims to protect other groups, such as the LGBTQ+, the elderly, people with disabilities, children, and men. They are also the victims of all the aforementioned atrocities, and the fact that the percentage of male victims is overshadowed by female victims in no way diminishes the seriousness of their suffering.
In reality, the document reflects values every human rights-respecting country should align with. Apart from condemning domestic and sexualized violence, it requires states to give victims of these violent acts better protection and to prosecute perpetrators more effectively.
Why do we need the Convention in the Czech Republic?
The fact that the Convention was ratified by the overwhelming majority of EU states provides evidence that it offers a comprehensive approach to the issue of gender-based violence. Unfortunately, the Czech Republic is one of the six EU member states that had yet to ratify the Convention. The treaty was signed, but the ratification has been postponed since 2018.
As of now, I am convinced that the biggest contribution would be a much-needed redefinition of rape within the Czech legislation. This has been a huge issue in the Czech Republic for years. Thanks to organizations like BezTrestu we have data to support this claim about how only a few cases get reported and even fewer are met with justice. Therefore, we urgently need an impulse that will help us solve this complex issue comprehensively. That is the reason why the convention places so much emphasis, for example, on greater awareness among professional and security forces. If we truly want to protect the victims, we need to strengthen their trust in the system.
In addition, the Convention aims to support NGOs that focus on the prevention of domestic or sexual violence and help the victims. In the Czech Republic, they are approached very ideologically and their finances are often limited or suppressed.
The data regarding estimated domestic, gender-based, and sexualized violence are very similar practices in all countries. After the COVID-19 pandemic, it became clear that the situation with domestic violence has become significantly worse almost everywhere. This phenomenon has been called the “shadow pandemic,” which broke out in many households during lockdowns. Therefore, the common European approach is very much needed. We need to solve this problem in a coordinated way, just like the pandemic.
The EU set an example regarding this issue and the Czech Republic should wake up and act accordingly. We need a redefinition of rape, we need to deepen the protection of victims, we need more effective prosecution of perpetrators and we need more education both of the public and of the agencies that are the first with whom the victims have to come into contact. Ratification of the Convention will bring this to us, just as it has demonstrably brought it to other states that have ratified it, according to GREVIO data.
Enough of the misinformation that is being spread around the Convention. There is nothing to wait for.