Midlothian MP supports campaign to end violence against women

Midlothian MP Owen Thompson (SNP) joined 56 MPs and peers last week to call on the Government to make the Istanbul Convention on violence against women law without exceptions.

Mr Thompson has been a vocal campaigner for the Convention, and supported an SNP led Bill to force a timetable for its ratification.

On 17 May 2022, the Government announced they plan to ratify the Convention, 10 years after the UK signed the Convention on 8 June 2012 and many years of campaigning. However, the Government plans to ‘opt out’ of key parts of the Convention that provide life-saving support and protections, particularly for migrant women.

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Violence against women and girls is high across the UK. Over the last decade, more than 1220 women were killed by men. The number of police recorded domestic abuse-related crimes in England and Wales rose by six per cent in the year ending March 2021, to 845,734. ONS crime figures for the 12-month period ending in September 2021 show that sexual offences recorded by the police were the highest on record, at 170,973 offences.

Owen Thompson MP holds a sign to show support for the IC Change Campaign to end violence against all women. Photo by Kiki Streitberger

Mr Thompson joined colleagues at the parliamentary event in urging the Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention.

He said “Violence against women is a silent epidemic in Scotland and across the UK so it’s crucial that we prioritise action to tackle it. We need the strongest possible measures in place to combat violence against women in all its forms, and that’s what the Istanbul Convention aims to do, so I am pleased it will finally be enshrined in law.

“The UK Government has been dragging its heels in ratifying this important human rights treaty for a decade now. I’ve been calling for it to be ratified since I first got elected and backed my former SNP colleague Eilidh Whiteford’s bill which pressed for it to happen.

“While it’s positive news that this is finally going forward, it must be without exceptions.

"Migrant women survivors of abuse already face additional challenges accessing justice and support. They should not be denied lifeline protections and left reliant on perpetrators of violence. Ratifying the Istanbul Convention is a step in the right direction towards making a safer world for women, but it must apply for all women.”

The event was run by IC Change and supporting organisations, including the Women’s Institute, Southall Black Sisters, End Violence Against Women Coalition the Latin Amertican Service for Women’s Rights (LAWRS), Safety4Sisters, Solace Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis.

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Robyn Andréo-Boosey, co-director of IC Change, said: “This law is about women's lives and all women being able to live free from violence.

Whilst we welcome the news and plans to ratify the Convention, we are extremely concerned to hear that the Government plans to include reservations that will put migrant women at risk. The power of the Convention lies in the fact it offers all women and girls protection without discrimination.

We urge the Government to ensure that ratification leaves no woman behind. We will not accept caveats or exceptions. All women means all women.”