Trends and best practices in efforts to stop violence against women are outlined in a new report based on 17 countries in Europe, covering its work from June 2019 to December 2020. It has been published by GREVIO, the Council of Europe’s independent expert group responsible for monitoring implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention).
It highlights trends in the provision of services for victims and discusses these against the background of the pandemic which has greatly increased the need for support. The report shows how much the pandemic has brought to light pre-existing gaps concerning specialist services, impacting significantly on women’s and girls’ ability to access specialist support services for the different forms of violence they may experience.
For example, while most countries have developed wider and stronger networks of specialist support services to assist domestic violence victims, services for victims of other forms of violence – from sexual violence and female genital mutilation, to forced marriage and sexual harassment – are available, if at all, in “much lower numbers”. GREVIO thus often addresses the need to set up specialist support services for other forms of violence other than domestic violence.
While all states parties have set up helplines to provide support and information to victims of gender-based violence, many do not “sufficiently comply” with all helpline requirements as defined by the Convention. In its baseline evaluation reports, GREVIO notes that helplines need to be specifically aimed at women victims of violence, and that the staff providing information and counselling need to be trained in this area.