08.01.2018The Istanbul Convention does not introduce 'third sex' and is not a propaganda tool

On 3 January, the Council of Ministers adopted a draft decision on a proposal to the National Assembly to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (so called the Istanbul Convention), which caused an unexplained reaction due to manipulative political interpretations aimed at shifting the focus and debate from the real problem, namely that 1 million of nearly 4 million Bulgarians are harassed at home, for 54% of Bulgarians sexual abusement being a serious problem ; that 70% of respondents aged between 13 and 16 are personally aware of victims of domestic violence; that 1925 children in 2016 were born by mothers under the age of 16.

Center Amalipe declares its strong support for the ratification of the Convention and opposes all false statements and allegations relating to it, based ignorance of the topic or purposeful manipulation of public opinion. Shifting the public debate in the wrong direction is equal to denial of decisive action against violence against women and children.

There is no meaning of the word gender in Bulgarian. Gender is the social role that women and men have in society - that girls play with dolls, and boys play with trucks, that the role of the woman is mainly related to the role of childcare and housework while the man plays football, drinks beer with friends, and make a career, that the girl is supposed to marry virgin, and parents have the right to decide when and for whom to marry her. This is the understanding of gender - the social role that society attributes to the woman and to the man as such. There is absolutely nothing to do with third sex, with transsexuals, intersexual, and so on. The Convention does not speak about these things at all and it is extremely cynical to shifting the focus, without reading the Convention.

The Istanbul Convention draws attention to all aspects relating to prevention, information, training, protection, response and assistance to victims of violence. The document has been signed by 44 countries and by the European Union, and has been ratified by 28 countries in Europe, 17 of which are EU Member States.

The Convention provides for each State to set up a dedicated monitoring mechanism, to allocate appropriate financial and human resources for its good execution, to establish one or more official bodies responsible for the coordination, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and measures to prevent and combat with all forms of violence covered by the Convention.

No text of the Convention refers to "third sex", trans sexuality or training that undermines "Bulgarian traditions". On the contrary, the Convention has repeatedly highlighted the generally accepted European values of equality between men and women, non-discrimination and protection against violence. Moreover, the term "social sex", as translated into the Bulgarian version of the Convention, is explicitly defined as stereotyped perceptions in individual societies about the appropriate roles, behaviors and activities for men and women that give rise to prejudices, inequality and tolerance of violence against women and girls.

"The Convention says traditions and cultural practices cannot serve as an excuse for admission of crimes - marriage of minors in the Roma community, for example. Early marriages are now criminalized, but the attitude of law institutions is "It's a cultural practice, a cultural feature of this community, let them do it"

The ratification of the Convention will contribute to a positive change in the national legal framework in the following directions:

Introducing official data by the state for cases of domestic violence and gender-based violence;

Criminalization of "persecution", rape during marriage, changes in the prescription period of these crimes;

Ensure rapid and effective investigation of cases of domestic violence and gender-based violence by law and judiciary authorities;

Introducing adequate specialized services for the protection of injured women and children;

Introduction of an obligation for the abuser to visit specialized programs, including social and psychological counseling.

Center Amalipe joins the petition of other experts and organizations to strongly support the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Violence against Women and Domestic Violence by Bulgaria as evidence of the political will to take decisive action against this dehumanizing phenomenon. We call on the MPs, the responsible institutions, and the media and citizens to refrain from knowingly replacing the widespread problem of violence against women and children with manipulative and distorted interpretations of concepts and objectives sufficiently defined by the Convention.

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