Turkey has become the first country to ratify the Istanbul Convention to combat violence against women in 2012. Now, Feride Acar, a Turkish professor, is leading a committee of experts to monitor the progress of the convention in 19 countries ratifying the landmark agreement. Acar's Group of Experts on Action Against Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) will start work in 2016 to examine whether the countries adopted the convention.
The independent body will draw up a report in countries that are parties to the convention, based on situation reports by countries and a monitoring process by GREVIO experts, as well as interviews with victims of violence in those countries. The next phase will be recommendations for improvement on any shortcomings in handling the issue in those countries.
Acar said the convention brought comprehensive regulations in fighting violence targeting women and necessitated a review of the laws in each country in line with their compliance with the convention. "The Turkish constitution's Article 6284 is partly in compliance but it does not cover all the areas in the convention. The penal code needs amendments as well for the integration of the convention. For instance, stalking, mentioned in the convention, is still not included in the penal code," she said.
She said that the convention's articles were applicable to the courts but judges and prosecutors should be trained on it. "They can apply the convention's articles when (incompatible) laws conflict with it," she said. She pointed out the need to include the prevention of violence and combating it into the curriculum of law schools to raise awareness among the judiciary.
GREVIO will initiate the process in spring 2016 to monitor the state of the fight against domestic violence and violence against women in 19 countries and the resulting report will be presented to the Council of Europe, whose subcommittee on the convention will ask countries not properly adopting the rules to implement improvements to their laws and policies to combat the violence.
One of the most important articles in the convention is granting asylum for victims of domestic violence in European countries. Professor Acar says this may benefit, for instance, women of the Yazidi community in Iraq, who faced a systemic campaign of violence from DAESH in Iraq before fleeing to Turkey and other countries.
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