Women against Violence Europe (WAVE) launches the Step up! Campaign

25 May, 2016

Northern Ireland, 25th May 2016

Women against Violence Europe (WAVE) launches the Step up! Campaign
A campaign on the rights of women survivors of violence and their children to access support and protection
1 in 3 women in Europe experiences physical or sexual violence. Yet, the states to which women pay taxes fail to ensure satisfactory access to specialised support services. Only 15 out of 46 European countries provide a specialised helpline and Europe is lacking at least 47,000 women’s shelter places. Support centres for rape and sexual assault are not available. Discrimination hinders most vulnerable women from accessing support! "There is a serious under-investment in specialised support services in many countries in Europe and as a consequence women have nowhere to turn for adequate help. We call on EU authorities, national governments and other interested parties in society to STEP UP investments to stop violence against women!" (Rosa Logar, WAVE President)
Today, the Women against Violence Europe (WAVE) Network launches the European campaign Step up! In the next two years, WAVE members will promote the rights of women survivors of violence and their children to access support and protection throughout Europe. Violence against women and girls remains the most widespread form of human rights violation and it can be fatal -  in 2012, an estimated 47% of all homicides of women were committed by a family member or an intimate partner. 
The under-investment in adequate support has to do with the wide-spread victim-blaming, also responsible for the under-reporting of violence. Most societies prohibit such violence but tacitly tolerate it in practice, so women have no alternative and endure repeated violence. The costs of this repeated violence affect all of us. Support services are vital to enable women and their children to seek safety and empowerment for violence-free lives.  Therefore we urge the European society to step up investments in specialized services that work from a women’s rights perspective and make a difference. Please see the attached video for more details.
Figures that speak about the lack of access to specialized services (WAVE Report 2015): 
Only 15 out of 46 European countries provide a helpline that runs 24/7 and is free of charge
More than 47,000 women’s shelter places are missing in Europe, particularly in new EU member states that have joined after 2004 and non-EU member states , according to Council of Europe standards  
Support centres for women and girls victims of rape and sexual assault are not available in most countries
Access to specialised support services is hindered for many women, including Black and Minority Ethnic (BME), migrant and undocumented migrant, differently-abled, elderly and LGBT women 
In Northern Ireland 
Between April 1st 2014 and April 31st 2015 8,685 women and children accessed emergency accommodation and support 
Between April 1st 2014 and April 31st 2015 The national helpline funded by Government responded to 34,420 calls
Between April 1st 2014 – 31st April 2015 – 28,287 incidents with a domestic motivation were reported to the PSNI.
The PSNI responded to a domestic incident every 19 minutes of every day.
13,426 domestic abuse crimes were reported; this represents approximately 13% of the overall crime in Northern Ireland (105,072).
Between April 1st 2014 and April 31st 2015 37.5% of all murders in Northern Ireland in 2014/15 had a domestic abuse motivation.
Between April 1st 2014 and April 31st 2015 There were 2,734 sexual offences recorded including 737 offences of rape.
Between April 1st 2014 and April 31st 2015 There were more domestic abuse crimes (13,426) than burglary offences (8,937).
The WAVE Network and Womens Aid Federation Northern Ireland call on key decision-makers at national and European levels to:
1) Actively support prevention and protection for victims of violence against women; 
2) Commit to improving access to specialised support services for ALL women and their children; 
3) Increase the availability of specialist support services in Europe (particularly women’s helplines, shelters and centres); 
4) Improve the quality of support services, which are best provided by independent women’s organisations that place women’s needs and rights at the heart of their work
The key challenge to support services in Northern Ireland is the need to ensure funding for emergency services, through the Supporting People Programme, and to strengthen this funding recognising the need for specialised services and developing victim centre services.  There is also a need for Government in Northern Ireland to sign up and ratify the Istanbul Convention. *
The Istanbul Convention, also named the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, is a Council of Europe convention against violence against women and domestic violence. The UK has signed the Convention, but has not yet ratified it, meaning that the Convention is not yet in force in the UK.
The Convention legislates for the coordination of policies between government, local authorities and charities. The delay has been blamed on ensuring the UK has the jurisdiction over offences committed abroad against women by UK nationals, but critics say funding cuts mean the Government would not be able implement the Convention fully. The Convention has been ratified by 19 countries - including Albania, Serbia and Turkey.
Key message: Step Up –  to make sure Northern Ireland has strong legislation and services that protect and care for all victims of domestic and sexual violence
Because violence against women is a collective problem, which has a huge impact on women’s economic freedom and potential, and ultimately enormous repercussions on the world’s economy, the campaign calls on the business and philanthropy sector in Northern Ireland to 
“Step up investments to support survivors”
Partnering for change is essential, and we call on each and every one of you! Join the Step up! Campaign! 
Step up and stand together to end violence against women and their children!
For more information or to support the Step up! Campaign, please contact:
Jan Melia CEO – Womens Aid Federation Northern Ireland – 129 University Street Belfast BT7 1HP – 028 90 249041 – jan.melia@womensaidni.org
WAVE Office in Vienna: Rosa Logar, rosa.logar@interventionsstelle-wien.at or Maria Rösslhumer, Maria.roesslhumer@wave-network.org 
To find out more about the Step up! campaign, go to: www.wave-network.org   
Watch the Step up! campaign Launch Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvcu2lZgpNE 
European Union Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA). 2014. Violence against women – an EU-wide survey. Available at: http://fra.europa.eu/en/publication/2014/violence-against-women-eu-wide-...  
Gracia, E. and Lila, M. 2015. Attitudes towards violence against women in the EU. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/gender-equality/files/documents/151125_attit...  
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). 2013. Global study on homicide – trends, contexts, data. Available at: https://www.unodc.org/documents/gsh/pdfs/2014_GLOBAL_HOMICIDE_BOOK_web.pdf  
Women against Violence Europe (WAVE). 2016. WAVE Report 2015 – On the role of specialist women’s support services in Europe. Available at: http://fileserver.wave-network.org/researchreports/WAVE_Report_2015.pdf 
*The Istanbul Convention is an international treaty. The Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 provides statutory footing for the formal process of treaty ratification, formerly the Ponsonby Rule. Once the Government has signed a treaty, the Government must then set about making sure that the UK complies with the treaty before ratifying it, making any necessary changes to law or practice.
If the UK were to ratify the Istanbul Convention, the Convention would have a strong indirect effect on the UK legal system in two ways. First, as a ratified treaty it could be cited by the UK Courts as persuasive authority with regard to legal decision-making and the establishment of legal principles and, furthermore, where there is some ambiguity as to what the law requires, the courts will assume thatthe law should be interpreted in a way that complies with the United Kingdom's international obligations; second, via the European Court of Human Rights which now regularly refers to International and European Conventions as part of the process of legal reasoning and the establishment of principles in its case law.
The Convention leaves no doubt: there can be no real equality between women and men if women experience gender-based violence on a large-scale and state agencies and institutions turn a blind eye. Its full ratification would make it an obligation of the state to fully address gender based violence in all its forms and to take measures to prevent violence, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators.