Yana Salakhova is an independent expert on non-discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes.
She commented for the Foundation:
- how the Istanbul Convention will affect the legal framework for combating violence against women and gender-based domestic violence;
- why the Convention is about destroying social stereotypes that justify violence against women.
The Convention is a protection against gender-based violence
I hope that the Convention will have an impact on the consideration of gender aspects in the development of Ukrainian legislation.
In order to create an effective system of protection and counteraction at all levels, it is important to understand the causes and nature of crimes committed against women.
I have been dealing with hate crimes for a long time and I see that the logic behind the understanding of the nature of the crime affects the way laws and articles of the Criminal Code are written.
“Well, they beat you and beat you, what’s the difference?” I have heard many times when explaining the consequences of a crime for a person/group to which the victim belongs on protected characteristics/society as a whole.
Article 3 of the Istanbul Convention explains that for the purposes of the Convention, the term “gender” means “the socially assigned roles, behaviors, activities and characteristics that a given society considers appropriate for women and men.”
In other words, certain social roles or stereotypes reproduce undesirable and harmful practices and contribute to the tolerance of violence against women.
It is by understanding the impact of such prejudices, traditions and customs that governments can adopt a “gendered understanding” of violence, as required by the Convention.
How will the legal framework for combating violence against women change?
The Convention draws attention to the structural patriarchal “norms” of society that can justify violence against women and domestic violence on the basis of gender.
The Law on Preventing and Combating Domestic Violence and the Law on Ensuring Equal Rights and Opportunities for Women and Men will be amended to take into account the gendered nature of violence.
Of course, the changes will affect the Criminal Code, which should clearly define the penalties for all types of violence against women under the Convention, the list of aggravating circumstances, the procedure for investigating criminal proceedings, where special attention should be paid to protecting the rights of the victim and which will not depend on whether a victim has filed a complaint or appeal, and may continue if the victim withdraws her appeal or complaint.
But there will be even more work to be done with bylaws that should ensure the organizational part of the guarantees to combat violence, which is an important component of the Convention.
As a reminder, Andriy Yakovlev, an expert of the Foundation and a lawyer at the Regional Center for Human Rights, made a detailed review of the Convention’s articles that are crucial for Ukraine and the novelties that await Ukrainian legislation after the ratification of the Istanbul Convention. The material is available at https://bit.ly/3OzmZyu.