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Istanbul ratification still nowhere in sight

The international document preventing violence against women was one of the reasons why a former justice minister left the government.

(Source: Miroslava Cibulková)

Thousands of people protested against the international convention to prevent violence against women, but the government ratified it anyway.

That is last week’s news from Croatia, where the protest in the city of Split on April 12 did not stop the parliament from giving the green light to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention. Slovakia signed the convention under the government of Iveta Radičová in 2011 but the governments that followed, all led by Smer, have been reluctant to ratify the document, along with nine other EU countries.

One in three women aged 15 or over in the EU have experienced physical or sexual violence.

More than half of women in the EU experienced sexual harassment and one in 20 women is a victim of rape.

Source: European Commission

The issue had been on the table recently, just before the murder of a journalist and his fiancée thrust Slovakia into a major political crisis that pushed aside all other issues, including the convention on preventing violence against women, to the margins of public discourse. Before then, Slovakia had had its own protests against the Istanbul Convention staged by conservatives who see the document as a symbol of “gender ideology” and liberal attitudes regarding women and family. Much like elsewhere in Europe, there has been a lot of distorted information about the document in Slovakia, including the falsehood that it promotes same-sex marriages.

“As long as I am prime minister and the questions over the interpretation are not satisfied, I will never agree to ratifying this document,” then PM Robert Fico said about the convention back in February.

Read also:Fico: Women need protection, especially as more migrants arrive in Europe

Fico has not been prime minister for over a month now but the Peter Pellegrini government is apparently going to keep the line on this matter. Moreover, Fico is still the head of the ruling Smer and the ruling coalition still consists of Smer, Most-Híd, and the SNS. The latter has been known as the main opponent of the Istanbul Convention, sustaining traditionalist attitudes. In the past, SNS leader Andrej Danko said he would not remain part of the government for one second if they were in conflict over the Istanbul Convention, Sme daily reported.

In fact, the Istanbul Convention was one of the things Danko listed on April 18 that he needed to discuss with PM Peter Pellegrini.

When Fico made his announcement that his government would not be ratifying the convention, he refused the idea that he was surrendering to SNS and Danko, claiming that all three coalition partners agreed on the non-ratification of the convention, because they “do not want to go against the Constitution”.

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