Women against Violence Europe (WAVE) launches the Step up! Campaign

Step Up Campaign

A campaign on the rights of women survivors of violence and their children to access support and protection.

1 in 3 women in Europe experiences physical or sexual violence. Yet, the states to which women pay taxes fail to ensure satisfactory access to specialised support services. Only 15 out of 46 European countries provide a specialised helpline and Europe is lacking at least 47,000 women’s shelter places. Support centres for rape and sexual assault are not available. Discrimination hinders most vulnerable women from accessing support!

There is a serious under-investment in specialised support services in many countries in Europe and as a consequence women have nowhere to turn for adequate help. We call on EU authorities, national governments and other interested parties in society to STEP UP investments to stop violence against women! Rosa Logar, WAVE President

Today, the Women against Violence Europe (WAVE) Network launches the European campaign Step up!

In the next two years, WAVE members will promote the rights of women survivors of violence and their children to access support and protection throughout Europe. Violence against women and girls remains the most widespread form of human rights violation and it can be fatal in 2012, an estimated 47% of all homicides of women were committed by a family member or an intimate partner.

The under-investment in adequate support has to do with the wide-spread victim-blaming, also responsible for the under-reporting of violence. Most societies prohibit such violence but tacitly tolerate it in practice, so women have no alternative and endure repeated violence. The costs of this repeated violence affect all of us. Support services are vital to enable women and their children to seek safety and empowerment for violence-free lives. Therefore, we urge the European society to step up investments in specialised services that work from a women’s rights perspective and make a difference.

Figures that speak about the lack of access to specialised services (WAVE Report 2015):

In Northern Ireland

The WAVE Network and Women’s Aid Federation Northern Ireland call on key decision-makers at national and European levels to:

  1. Actively support prevention and protection for victims of violence against women;
  2. Commit to improving access to specialised support services for ALL women and their children;
  3. Increase the availability of specialist support services in Europe (particularly women’s helplines, shelters and centres);
  4. Improve the quality of support services, which are best provided by independent women’s organisations that place women’s needs and rights at the heart of their work

The key challenge to support services in Northern Ireland is the need to ensure funding for emergency services, through the Supporting People Programme, and to strengthen this funding recognising the need for specialised services and developing victim centre services. There is also a need for Government in Northern Ireland to sign up and ratify the Istanbul Convention. *

The Istanbul Convention, also named the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, is a Council of Europe convention against violence against women and domestic violence. The UK has signed the Convention, but has not yet ratified it, meaning that the Convention is not yet in force in the UK.

The Convention legislates for the coordination of policies between government, local authorities and charities. The delay has been blamed on ensuring the UK has the jurisdiction over offences committed abroad against women by UK nationals, but critics say funding cuts mean the Government would not be able implement the Convention fully. The Convention has been ratified by 19 countries – including Albania, Serbia and Turkey.

Key messages

Step Up to make sure Northern Ireland has strong legislation and services that protect and care for all victims of domestic and sexual violence

Because violence against women is a collective problem, which has a huge impact on women’s economic freedom and potential, and ultimately enormous repercussions on the world’s economy, the campaign calls on the business and philanthropy sector in Northern Ireland to

Step Up investments to support survivors

Partnering for change is essential, and we call on each and every one of you! Join the Step up! Campaign!

Step Up and stand together to end violence against women and their children!

To find out more about the Step up! campaign, go to:


European Union Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA). 2014. Violence against women – an EU-wide survey. Available at:

Gracia, E. and Lila, M. 2015. Attitudes towards violence against women in the EU.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). 2013. Global study on homicide – trends, contexts, data.

Women against Violence Europe (WAVE). 2016. WAVE Report 2015 – On the role of specialist women’s support services in Europe.



*The Istanbul Convention is an international treaty. The Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 provides statutory footing for the formal process of treaty ratification, formerly the Ponsonby Rule. Once the Government has signed a treaty, the Government must then set about making sure that the UK complies with the treaty before ratifying it, making any necessary changes to law or practice.

If the UK were to ratify the Istanbul Convention, the Convention would have a strong indirect effect on the UK legal system in two ways. First, as a ratified treaty it could be cited by the UK Courts as persuasive authority with regard to legal decision-making and the establishment of legal principles and, furthermore, where there is some ambiguity as to what the law requires, the courts will assume thatthe law should be interpreted in a way that complies with the United Kingdom’s international obligations; second, via the European Court of Human Rights which now regularly refers to International and European Conventions as part of the process of legal reasoning and the establishment of principles in its case law.

The Convention leaves no doubt: there can be no real equality between women and men if women experience gender-based violence on a large-scale and state agencies and institutions turn a blind eye. Its full ratification would make it an obligation of the state to fully address gender based violence in all its forms and to take measures to prevent violence, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators.