Fidesz refuses to support EP resolution to end violence against women

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On Thursday, the European Parliament passed a non-legislative resolution calling the EU to accede to and all member states to ratify the Istanbul Convention. The resolution was supported by 500 members of the European Parliament with 91 votes against, and 50 MEPs abstaining - including the 13 MEPs of Fidesz.

According to the EU-wide survey conducted by the Agency for Fundamental Rights, a third of women in the EU above the age of 15 have suffered sexual or physical violence, 55% of women had to face some form of sexual harassment, and 5% of women have been raped.

The Council of Europe's Convention on preventing and combating violence against women, also known as the Istanbul Convention was accepted in 2011, and the European Union signed it in June 2017. This is the first international instrument of its kind defending women: the states ratifying the convention have to follow comprehensive legal standards to prevent gender-based violence, protect victims and punish perpetrators. Currently, there are seven member states which have not yet ratified the Convention: Hungary, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, Slovakia, and the UK. The European Parliament now urged these countries to ratify it without delay.

The MEPs condemned the attacks and campaigns against the Convention in some member states which are based on deliberately misinterpreting and falsely presenting the Convention's contents to the public, the resolution reads.

MEPs requested the Commission to add combating gender-based violence as a priority in the next European Gender Strategy. They also asked the Commission to submit a legal act tackling all forms of gender-based violence - including online harassment and cyber violence - and plead for violence against women to be included in the catalogue of EU-recognised crimes. 

The topic was up for debate in the European Parliament on Monday, when MEPs honoured the memory of victims of violence against women with a minute of silence. The EU aims to ratify the Istanbul Convention, but for that, it has to be ratified in all member states.

The Hungarian Government signed the Convention in March 2014 but has not ratified it yet. Two years ago, Fidesz's VP Szilárd Németh told ATV that "as long as Fidesz has a majority in the Parliament, the Istanbul Convention will not go through," but this April, parliamentary state secretary Pál Völner answered an MP's question claiming that the government is waiting for Brussels: "As the competences of the EU and the competences of member states are codependent, the EU has to become a party to the Convention in order for the EU and the member states to be able to fulfil the obligations contained in the convention in a coherent manner"

Two months later, Völner told the Parliament that the Convention will not be ratified in Hungary because of its chapter on refugees and its definition of gender as a social construct.

When asked about the ratification of the Istanbul Convention at the hearing preceding her appointment as Minister of Justice in July, Judit Varga, the only female member of the Hungarian Government told the Hungarian Parliament's Justice Committee that Hungary already protects women with many legal instruments.

(Cover: MEPs voting in the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Photo: Vincent Kessler / Reuters)

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