The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, has endorsed the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, MP Andriy Osadchuk reported on Facebook on June 20.
259 parliamentarians voted in favor, eight were against, and another 28 abstained.
This international agreement of the Council of Europe provides for the criminalization of violence against women, domestic violence, harassment, forced marriages and abortions, sterilization, and also provides for the protection of victims, the ability of law enforcement agencies to respond to various forms of violence, and other measures to prevent or punish violence against women. As of May 2021, the convention had been ratified by 33 states and 12 more had signed it.
Ukraine signed the Istanbul Convention in 2011 but had not ratified the document. In 2020 and 2021, the ratification of the Istanbul Convention was a key requirement of the Women's March in Kyiv.
Two petitions calling for ratification of the Istanbul Convention had already been posted on the president's website, both garnering the more than 25,000 votes required for the head of state to consider it.
On February 17, in response to the petition, President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that he had consistently supported the protection of the rights of people who had experienced domestic violence and gender-based violence.
In June 2020, he supported a petition calling for ratification and signed a decree on measures to prevent and combat domestic violence and protect the rights of people who have experienced such violence. Following the decree, the Cabinet of Ministers in April 2021 approved the relevant action plan.
Earlier, the Women's March initiative stated that the issue of women's protection was even more urgent in the context of a full-scale war, and called for the ratification of the Istanbul Convention:
"This will be an important step in Ukraine's European integration process,” the March’s organizers said.
"Unlike in the Russian world, where domestic violence is decriminalized and not a crime and where women are in no way protected. We must accentuate the direction in which our country is moving – this is the path of European integration!"