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We cannot let the government drag its feet over women's rights

Tuesday 13-12-2016 - 11:00

On Friday 16 December, MPs will debate a Private Members’ Bill on the Istanbul Convention - as proposed by Scottish National Party MP Dr. Elidh Whiteford.

For those of you who may be unaware, the Istanbul Convention is the most comprehensive and legal framework that exists to tackle violence against women and young girls. Back in 2012 the government signed the Council of Europe Convention on preventing violence against women and domestic violence, later known as the Istanbul Convention. However we now edge closer to 2017 with no further movement, trailing abysmally behind 22 other countries that have ratified the convention. I write today because all that may be about to change if the Bill passes through its second reading in Parliament this Friday - they would have a legal obligation to prevent violence and protect women experiencing violence.

The government would thus have a legal duty to fund vital services for women and provide adequate refuges, set up 24-hour helplines and integrate awareness of these issues within our education. It is crucial that we push this government to act against a rising tide of abuse. We already know that women are bearing the brunt of violent crimes. In the past year alone, cases of domestic abuse, rape and sexual assault rose by 10 per cent.[1] A recent report in the Guardian found that 900 women were killed in England and Wales over a six-year-period - most by their current or former partner.[2] 

These statistics are further reflected in the higher education sector: 1 in 7 women, for example, have experienced serious sexual or physical violence during their time at university.[3]

That is why we at NUS are asking everyone to show their support for the Istanbul Convention this Friday. We need to shout loud and clear: enough is enough. We will not (and shall not) tolerate further abuses to women’s safety or survivors’ access to refuges.

The NUS Women’s Campaign have paired up with The ICC Change Campaign to compile a list of things you can do in the lead up to Friday 16 December:

  • Write to your local MP to ensure that they attend the debate on Friday. We have put together a short template for you to copy and paste and send to your relevant MP.Click here for the draft letter. You can find your local MP here.
  • Attend the second reading at the House of Commons on Friday. To reserve a place, please contact the NUS Women’s Officer, Hareem Ghani on hareem.ghani@nus.org.uk 
  • Add a Twibbon to your profile picture via www.twibbon.com/support/stand-by-me-ic and change your cover-photo on Facebook and Twitter!
  • Create as much noise as you can about the campaign by using the hashtags #ChangeHerStory and #StandByMe
  • Get in touch with the lead organiser of this campaign: The IC Change campaign who are working relentlessly to ensure that the Government follows through with its commitment to make the Istanbul Convention law in the UK. 

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