7 Mar 2017

Why ‘Violence Against Women’ Bill Is Empty Gesture Politics

By Philip Davies: The House of Commons has passed a Private Member’s Bill to ratify the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention on Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (or has it? – keep that thought in your mind for later in the article).
Once again I have been the pantomime villain for doing my best to block it (even though I failed miserably).

Not for the first time, we have a piece of legislation which only cares about female victims of violence and domestic violence – even though a man in the UK is twice as likely to be a victim of violent crime than a woman, and a third of domestic violence victims are male.
Why do we even have to mention gender in these things? Why can’t we just be concerned about all victims irrespective of gender?
That is why I opposed this discriminatory convention, much to the disgust of a number of my fellow MPs.
Some of them – who clearly haven’t read the 81 articles of the convention – try to claim the convention applies equally to men. It doesn’t. There are 76 mentions of women in the convention and 17 of men – and that includes these comments from the Convention’s preamble:
“Recognising that violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between women and men, which have led to domination over, and discrimination against, women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women”
So the idea that this convention applies equally to men and women is clearly nonsense.
Even the members of the body set up to monitor the implementation of the convention are all women.
However, there are two other interesting aspects to the passing of this Private Member’s Bill.
The first is that after disparaging me for opposing the Istanbul Convention, the Government – along with the SNP who had brought forward the Bill – quietly but completely filleted its provisions to make it completely meaningless.
In fact they even amended the title of the Bill so that it no longer requires the Government to actually ratify the Istanbul Convention, despite that supposedly being the whole purpose of it!
At least I had the decency to openly oppose ratifying it – but the Government and the SNP decided to play to the gallery, pretending to give the campaigners what they want whilst quietly abandoning it. This is the kind of jiggery pokery which brings politics into disrepute.
Finally, all of the feminist extremists tell us that ratifying the Istanbul Convention will literally save the lives of women.
But is there any evidence that, beyond the worthy sentiment, ratification of the convention actually reduces violence against women? I asked the sponsors of this Bill if they had any evidence. Guess what? No they didn’t.
I asked the House of Commons Library if they had any evidence – they didn’t either.
So, unlike those who simply assert how vital this convention is, I actually took the time to write to the ambassadors of all the countries who had ratified the Istanbul Convention to ask them what the figures were for violence against women in their country before and after ratification.
As it happens, despite the rhetoric, there is no evidence that signing the convention makes any difference at all to levels of violence against women.
Some countries reported a decrease while others – such as Albania and Sweden – saw a noticeable increase. Indeed, in Austria the number of women killed went from 118 to 165 in the year after ratification of the convention.
So there we have it, a convention which is discriminatory against men, where there is no evidence it makes any woman any safer from violence, and a Bill which has been watered down by its supposed cheerleaders in the Government and the SNP.
But apparently it is a great step forward for feminism and gender equality.
As far as I can see, it perfectly sums up how vacuous this whole agenda is, and how Parliament has become the vehicle for nothing more than pointless gesture politics.


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