The adoption of the bill ratifying the Istanbul Convention, on Thursday 29/03/18 by the Greek Parliament, is an important victory for the feminist movement and a breakthrough in the way it responds to and addresses gender-based violence. The approach to gender-based violence as a broad phenomenon that needs a structured and systematized way of dealing with it responds to the constant demands of feminist and women’s organizations and movements, but also to the great need of all those individuals who have suffered or are at risk of suffering any form of gender-based violence.
The social dimension of gender
The Istanbul Convention now recognizes the social dimension of gender, and covers widely the complexity of female identities. At the same time, it recognizes the existence of non-hegemonic femininities relevant to gender identity, expression and characteristics, not overlooking how gender-based violence can be directed against men and boys, while opening the way for further improvement initiatives of the State in these areas.
The draft law “Ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence and adaptation of Greek legislation, II) Incorporation of the 2005/214/JHA Framework Decision, as amended by Framework Decision 2009/299/JHA, on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to financial penalties and III) Other provisions of competence of the Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights”, aims, basically, to take the necessary measures (legislative and other), for the protection of women and the elimination of gender-based violence and domestic violence, as well as all discrimination against women, to provide support and assistance to the competent bodies, etc.
An innovation of the Istanbul Convention is the establishment of a monitoring mechanism. This includes GREVIO, an independent body composed of technocrats in charge of monitoring the implementation of the Istanbul Convention by the member states that have signed it.
With the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, the first international treaty that defines and names gender-based violence, gender-based violence, becomes the law of the state, giving the kick-start to the criminalization of relevant practices that are part of the daily life of many people, with the vast majority being women and girls.
The Convention guarantees equal protection and the right of all women (regardless of social class, nationality/ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, language, cultural characteristics, religion, legal status, etc.) to effective measures of protection, support and rehabilitation and social reintegration (health services, housing, social and judicial assistance, education, employment, counseling, and legal aid).
Among other things, we are particularly pleased with the repeal of the anachronistic provision of the Criminal Code (339) which provides for the cessation of criminal prosecution if a marriage took place between the perpetrator of the offense of statutory rape of a minor under the age of 15 and the victim. This provision has been criticized not only by the women’s movement but also by national and international human rights organizations and civil society.