August 1st of this year, we got the Istanbul Convention – the Council of Europe convention for preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
This convention is special in that it increases focus on the psychological violence, which is just as damaging – often more – as the physical violence. However, it is much harder to prove. The convention demands that Denmark makes psychological violence illegal and that we integrate this in the Danish laws.
Especially article 3a and article 33 are interesting.
In article 3a, violence against women is characterized as a violation of human rights and a form of discrimination.
In article 33, it is stated that: “Parties shall take the necessary legislative or other measures to ensure that the intentional conduct of seriously impairing a person’s psychological integrity through coercion or threats is criminalised.”
In Denmark, divorced mothers subjected to violence – physical, psychological, sexual and financial violence – following a divorce, cannot receive any help today.
The practice of the State Administrations operates directly contrary to the Istanbul Convention, when they 1/ do not want to hear a word about violence, 2/ put women under suspicion if they talk about violence, 3/ threaten to remove the children from women, if they are “troublesome” and 4/ demand that the woman cooperate with her perpetrator.
(The Istanbul Convention could mean that a significant segment of the employees with the State Administration can be prosecuted at the ECHR, European Commission of Human Rights.)
We also have examples of courts cooperating with the perpetrator and giving him custody, if the woman refuses to cooperate with him (and hand over the child to violence).
This leaves women and children COMPLETELY unprotected against violence, if they have a child with their abuser. Especially psychological violence finds its perfect shelter under the Parental Responsibility Act, because when the woman succeeds in removing herself from violence, it is then committed through the children, who are left completely broken down. And the woman is reprimanded, because she cannot PROVE that the child is subjected to the exact same mental abuse, which she herself has left behind.
In the Network Mom, we look forward to having the Istanbul Convention integrated into the Danish Parental Responsibility Act (which regulated the matter of custody and visitation rights following divorce).
We especially look forward to seeing the Minister’s project plan for when and how this will happen.