Vienna, 25 November 2013 – "It is a shocking fact that millions of women and girls worldwide are still exposed to frequent acts of violence – up to the most severe forms of physical and psychological abuse. Women and girls are especially hard hit by domestic violence, sexual attacks and rape, forced marriages, crime committed in the name of "honour" and genital mutilation. We must not resign and simply stand by and watch! We must continue our fight to finally stop these human rights violations", Foreign Minister and Vice-Chancellor Michael Spindelegger said on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on 25 November 2013.
"Strengthening the human rights of women and girls and standing up against violence have been priorities of Austrian foreign policy for many years. Besides the efforts made at national level, cross-border cooperation also plays an important role in improving the protection of women against violence", Spindelegger said.
"The Council of Europe's Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence that was adopted in May 2011 will set new standards. It is the objective of Austria's term as chair of the Council of Europe to make this important convention enter into force by the time the Conference of Ministers will be held at the beginning of May in Vienna. Serbia's ratification of the Convention on 21 November has brought us a great deal closer to this goal. I congratulate Serbia on this important step", commented Spindelegger who is currently chairing the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. After Austria and Bosnia and Herzegovina had deposited their deeds of ratification in November, Serbia was the eight member state to ratify the Convention. Only two more ratifications are now needed for the Convention to enter into force.
Austria fights for the objective of eliminating violence against women in other international bodies too, especially within the UN and in its development cooperation. "Violence against women and girls is also clearly a major obstacle in achieving the equality of women and men and sustainable development. This is precisely the point where Austrian Development Cooperation tries to bring about change by promoting a number of projects geared to prevent and reduce violence against women and girls – in Kosovo, Jordan, El Salvador and southern Africa, for example", Minister Spindelegger concluded.
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