Even MPs need to be shown a bit of love every now and then – especially those who supported women’s rights by voting for the ratification of the Istanbul Convention: one of the most significant laws tackling violence against women and girls in British political history.
Today, 135 MPs will receive Valentine’s cards hand-made and hand-written by survivors of gender-based violence and allies from campaign group IC Change to thank them for turning up to the House of Commons and voting the Private Member’s Bill through to the committee stage on 16 Dec. However, the battle is far from over.
More than 100 MPs are now needed to vote on the bill on 24 February to see it advance to the House of Lords. It can still be voted down or filibustered. The message inside the card urges those same MPs not to forget about survivors, to turn up to the Commons on 24 February, and to even ‘bring a date’ to vote alongside them.
Survivor Alex Friar, whose name has been changed for legal reasons, said: “I didn’t see myself sending a Valentine’s card to anyone this year, but I was moved by the many MPs who turned up to support this bill to help survivors like me on 16 December.
“I was almost killed a year ago after by ex broke into my home, raped me and tried to strangle me. Without the help of women’s services, I would not have survived. We need the Istanbul Convention to be ratified to ensure that women like me continue to be saved and protected. We need MPs to turn up on 24 February and make sure this bill carries on progressing.”
Becca Bunce, co-director of IC Change, said: “Now is the not the time for complacency. 135 MPs showed up to vote on this life-saving women’s rights bill in December, but we need just as many to do it again or it won’t happen. “In the current social and political environment, where women’s rights everywhere are being challenged and undermined, we need to ensure that the UK shows strong leadership in ending violence against women, and ratifying the Istanbul Convention is the way to do it.”
@ICChangeUK Thanks for my card – the Third Reading is in my diary. Thanks, Sarah
— Sarah Olney MP (@sarahjolney1) February 14, 2017
According to the Office of National Statistics 2016, two women in England and Wales are killed every week by a current or former male partner and at least one in five women has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16.
— IC Change (@ICChangeUK) February 14, 2017
The UK government actually signed a commitment to seeing it through almost five years ago but have so far failed to honour their promise.
Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP put forward the bill, preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (ratification of Convention) 2016-17.
The Bill would require the UK Government to legally commit themselves to providing enough funding for shelters, rape crisis centres, helplines, education in schools on healthy relationships, and training for professionals.
Want to know how you can help make sure this happens? Visit the IC Change website here.