An interfaith call was launched at the House of Lords by UK faith leaders including Rabbi Sybil Sheridan of West London Synagogue on Monday 5 December.
‘As faith leaders in the United Kingdom we stand together with leaders of our own faith and others to call on the UK Government to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (the Istanbul Convention). We call on the them to do so without further delay – so that women and girls can live free from violence and free from the fear of violence.
The Istanbul Convention is the most comprehensive legal framework that exists to tackle violence against women and girls, setting out minimum standards for a State’s response to this issue, in terms of prevention, protection, prosecution and monitoring.
As faith leaders, we are committed to tackling violence against women and girls in all its forms in our faith communities and wider society. In July 2015 faith leaders gathered together to publish a Declaration on Domestic Abuse, acknowledging the extent of the issue in the UK and our role in addressing it.
Now, we stand together across faiths, alongside women’s organisations supporting women who have experienced violence, to call on the UK Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention – and on all parliamentarians to support efforts to bring about this vital change.
Together, we recognise that women and men are equal in rights, dignity and value, and affirm that:
Violence against women and girls in all its forms is unacceptable and irreconcilable with the teachings of our, or any other, faith or worldview. We must speak out against it and seek change.
Violence against women and girls takes many forms, including sexual violence, stalking, so-called ‘honour’-based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation. To tackle it effectively, we need a joined up response, as provided by the Istanbul Convention. Violence against women and girls remains a serious problem within our own faith groups as well as in the wider communities which we serve – and we have a role to play in preventing and addressing it.
In addition to being tackled locally, violence against women and girls must be addressed by the Government on a national scale with a strong, long-term, strategic plan. The Istanbul Convention offers a strong framework for such a plan. We urge the UK Government to ratify the Convention without delay’.