August 1st marked the 5th anniversary of the entry into force of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, known as the Istanbul Convention. Tony Daly, on behalf of 80:20, joined other members of Euromed Rights Network in reflecting on what this convention means for them.
“During a routine check-up as part of antenatal meetings with my partner, the last thing we expected our midwife to ask was whether we had booked tickets to catch the latest box office not-to-miss movie adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey.
It was the week of Valentine’s Day in February 2014; that seasonal expression of love and affection on the annual calendar. And no, we had not booked tickets. After a hearty laugh about it, the race was on, our midwife explained…to the holiday roster. Any midwife worth their armchair forecasting knew what was coming – a VERY busy November. In an increasingly digital and digitally connected world, I couldn’t help but stop and wonder. What is this movie teaching – through emotional pain, humiliation and intimate partner violence – to today’s young women and men? Through popular culture, what is it suggesting or potentially normalising?
Four years on, and now joined by a young sister, my son sees and imitates everyone around him – most especially his cousins and grandparents. As social animals, children see, children do. And I wonder, what new role models will they grow to learn from and how many pop culture signals and norms will they be able to decode, unlearn and challenge for themselves?
As violence against girls and women is now broadcast regularly on Twitter, Facebook and in recent elections by candidates proving their ‘credentials’, it’s important to recognise the women who have encountered violence, in all its forms and through courage took personal risks to speak out, in spite of decades of distrustful state and social institutions that systematically failed generations of women. Last year over 19,000 contacts were made with Women’s Aid. At least 1 in 3 women worldwide, or up to one billion women, have been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in their lifetimes.
That Ireland ratified the Istanbul Convention on International Women’s Day in March this year is a triumph in perseverance and hope, and it gives me hope that Ireland finally signalled its ‘credentials’ as a small country to unlearn and relearn its role as a guarantor to this and future generations to prevent, protect against and combat gender-based violence in all its forms – physical, psychological and sexual.
By ratifying the Istanbul Convention, Ireland now stands in solidarity with women everywhere in stating that violence against women is no longer a ‘grey’ matter. That fantasy, is over”.
- Istanbul Convention resources, updated and activities, Council of Europe
- Summary national and international statistics, compiled by Women’s Aid
- Ireland ratifies the Istanbul Convention – Taoiseach says there is an ‘epidemic’ of violence against women, TheJournal.ie, March 8, 2019
- Use Your Art Gender Inequality poster series – a youth-led poster making series launched on International Women’s Day 2019 with Loreto Bray and 80:20
- Women’s Rights and Gender Justice Working Group updates and information, EuroMed Rights
Featured photo: © Council of Europe