Majority for landmark law

Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP with campaigners and MPs after the vote
Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP with campaigners and MPs after the vote

A landmark law to tackle violence against women passed its Third Reading in the House of Commons on Friday with an overwhelming majority of 138 in favour to just 1 against.

Local MP Dr Eilidh Whiteford’s Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Bill 2017, requires the UK government to ratify the Istanbul Convention - a far-reaching new law that puts legal obligations on the state to prevent violence against women, protect women and prosecute the perpetrators.

The Convention encompasses many forms of sexual violence and domestic abuse including stalking, harassment, sexual assault and rape, physical and psychological abuse by a partner, forced marriage, forced abortion or sterilisation and female genital mutilation.

The UK signed the treaty in 2012 but has yet to ratify it to make it part of UK law.

The SNP MP for Banff & Buchan, who is the party’s Westminster spokesperson for Social Justice, secured cross-party support for her Bill, which has been championed by women’s equality organisations including IC Change, Women’s Aid, Scottish Women’s Aid, Rape Crisis Scotland and Girlguiding.

The Bill also received support from actress and UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson, who wrote to all MPs urging them to vote for the Bill.

Dr Eilidh Whiteford MP said: “This is a huge and historic step forward in efforts to tackle violence against women and has the potential to transform the lives of thousands of women.”