Almost 70 NGOs are urging Lithuanian MPs to better protect victims of domestic violence by complying with international obligations and ratifying the Council of Europe Convention combating violence against women.
Although Lithuania passed the Law on Protection against Domestic Violence in 2011, this sort of violence remains an acute problem to this day. Since the passage of the law, reports of violence have increased almost fourfold, with almost 70,000 cases recoded in 2016.
“In recent years, Lithuania has done a lot to protect the victims of domestic violence. The Istanbul Convention, the first international legal instrument aimed solely at addressing gender-based violence, would allow us to systematically analyze our existing legal measures, assess their efficacy and improve them, thus developing a more effective system of protection. Thousands of victims are waiting for this next step, and it is for them that we must take it,” said Natalija Bitiukova, Deputy Director of the Human Rights Monitoring Institute.
Shrouded in myth
Organizations purporting to defend “traditional values” do not shy away from fearmongering – they claim that the Istanbul Convention is aimed at spreading “gender ideology.” According to them, the Convention would establish a new, social gender in Lithuania and limit the right of parents to educate their children according to their beliefs.
Birutė Sabatauskaitė, Director of the Lithuanian Center for Human Rights, claims that such fears are unfounded:
“The Istanbul Convention applies only to gender-based violence and to domestic violence, and it really saddens me that, instead of strengthening protection and prevention, we focus on how we interpret certain concepts and, I think it’s fair to say, on manipulation and ramblings. This, in my opinion, shows a lack of respect for victims of violence.”
The Istanbul Convention is a progressive international treaty aimed at combating violence against women and domestic violence, treating them as serious violations of human rights. The document covers the prevention of violence, victim protection, bringing perpetrators to justice and monitoring the implementation of the provisions of the Convention.
Lithuania signed the Istanbul Convention back in 2013. In 2016, Lithuania adopted the recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights Council and made a commitment to ratify the treaty.