(Courtesy of Council of Europe)

GREVIO president makes statement on the need to uphold the standards of the Istanbul Convention in times of a pandemic

As the lockdown continues around the world to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the risk of domestic violence intensifies as the restrictions on movement offers abusers additional power and control.    

Domestic violence shelters in some areas have stopped all admissions because they are unsure how to manage the risk of infection. Experts also see that victims do not seek medical help for fear of contagion or any help for fear of poverty, as women more likely will lose their regular income in the crisis and thus will be more dependent from their partner.

In her new statement, the president of GREVIO (The Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence) Marceline Naudi headlines: "For many women and children, the home is not a safe place" and points out the need to uphold the standards of the Istanbul Convention also in times of a pandemic.

Naudi writes: "The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence, also known as the Istanbul Convention, continues to apply to all Parties, be it in times of conflict or in times of a pandemic. GREVIO calls on all Parties to do their utmost to ensure continuity in service provision and to keep offering support and protection to women and girls at risk of violence, with the involvement of all relevant actors: law enforcement agencies, social services, the justice sector, specialist support services and all relevant ministries."

Many national administrations are working toward innovative solutions like launching information campaigns on available services, or including domestic violence support services among the essential ones. Others are offering online services, including psychological counselling and psychological support.

Never before has the need been greater to ensure that such innovative solutions form part of a concerted effort by all relevant ministries and women’s organisations in a joint effort to keep women and children safe from violence,” she writes hoping that the renewed spirit of solidarity in our societies will extend to women and girls who are victims of violence, and who may now feel even more trapped with their abusers. 

Click here to read the full statement.