MP draws attention to domestic violence

An Algarve PSD member of parliament has addressed Portugal’s 308 municipalities by letter to raise awareness about the problem of domestic violence.

Mendes Bota hopes that his initiative will encourage councils to recognise women who are victims of gender-based domestic violence by erecting monuments in their honour.

The politician’s idea followed a parliamentary mission-visit to Besiktas in Turkey, where a monument was erected to recognise the cause against domestic violence.

Mendes Bota presented a formal request to Parliament, asking to know if any Câmara had decided to erect, on municipal ground, a monument to women victims of gender-based violence; this request was then forwarded to all 308 municipalities.

In the written request, to which the Algarve Resident had access, Mendes Bota stressed that despite all logistic, operational and legislative advances, which put Portugal in the lead in the prevention of violence against women, “this year (2012) 36 women were murdered by their present or former spouses, and in 2011 there were around 29,000 domestic violence complaints”.

The MP stated that “there is absolutely no justification for violence against women, who continue to live in fear and are denied their first human right – a life free of violence”, saying that all efforts must be undertaken to protect these women.

Although recognising that preventive measures, along with victim support mechanisms and the punishment and medical treatment of aggressors, are priority, Mendes Bota understands it’s time to pay tribute to victims of domestic violence, as has been done in Besiktas.

Turkey is the only country currently complying with the European convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (see panel).

The MP went on to ask Portuguese mayors: “Isn’t it time that society paid tribute to women victims of domestic violence?

“Surely it is not expected that suddenly 308 monuments will be erected all over the country, but some municipalities will undoubtedly become sensitive to the subject,” he said.

||Freeing women from violence globally

Algarve PSD MP Mendes Bota is one of the leading figures in the parliamentary network ‘Women Free from Violence’. The network comprises of 51 parliamentarians belonging to delegations of member and observer States with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), as well as partners for democracy.

Earlier this year, a report by Mendes Bota led to Resolution 1861 by the PACE, which called on the European Union and EC observer states to sign and ratify the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (CETS No. 210).

It is considered the most far-reaching binding instrument in the world, providing a comprehensive framework to prevent violence against women, protect its victims, prosecute the perpetrators and set up a wide range of measures to address this scourge in all its complexity.

On November 25, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Mendes Bota stated at the PACE: “One-and-a-half years ago, a race for the right of women to live free from violence started in Istanbul with the opening for signature of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence.

“Twenty-five States have joined the race by signing the Convention and starting the preparations for its ratification. However, only one State, Turkey, has so far completed the ratification process.”

The MP, born in Loulé, is also hoping that 2013 will be the year that the Convention will come into force, adding that Portugal is close to ratifying it.

Last September, Mendes Bota was also in Rabat, Morocco, for the Regional Conference on the Prevention and Combat of Violence Against Women, to talk about its work on freeing women from violence and stressed the importance of the Istanbul Convention.

||Violent Christmas

A 36-year-old man violently attacked his wife with a hammer in the couple’s Quarteira home on Christmas Day night, causing serious head injuries.

The GNR were alerted by a neighbour who heard the 30-year-old woman screaming. Officers had to break down the door of the house as the attacker refused to allow them entry and threatened them with a knife, which he threw against the officers from a window.

The woman was rushed to Faro Hospital where she was said to be in a serious condition. The aggressor, who remains in police custody, awaits trial after being charged with domestic violence.