Refuge urges UK Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention without reservations


Ruth Davison, Refuge Chief Executive Officer, said:

“Today marks ten years since the UK signed the Istanbul Convention, an important piece of legislation offering protections to women across Europe, setting out minimum standards which European countries should adhere to in law to prevent and combat domestic abuse and violence against women.

The Convention is the first legally binding instrument which creates a comprehensive legal framework and approach to combat violence against women and signing should have represented a ground breaking moment. Regrettably, the UK has yet to ratify the treaty despite adding its signature a decade ago.

The government has recently indicated that it will ratify the convention next month – but with some exceptions. Refuge urges the government to reconsider and ratify without reservations.

That the government intends to avoid ratification of Article 59 of the convention, which requires states to grant residence to survivors whose immigration status depends on an abusive partner, is hugely concerning. Refuge stands alongside more than 80 organisations calling for the UK government to ratify the Istanbul Convention in full. To fail to do so is to fail survivors of domestic abuse.

At Refuge we know migrant women and women without recourse to public funds already face huge barriers to seeking support when experiencing domestic abuse. Insecure immigration status should never be a barrier to accessing support.

Refuge will continue to campaign with our sister organisations for protections for ALL survivors of domestic abuse and encourage the government to send the right message that no woman should be facing abuse alone.”


Notes to Editors

Refuge signed an open letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel calling for the government to ratify the Istanbul Convention in full without reservations, read the letter here.

About Refuge

Refuge supports thousands of women and children on any given day, and runs the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, which is the gateway to accessing specialist support across the country. More than one in four women in England and Wales experiences domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime, and two women a week are killed by a current or former partner.

Please signpost to Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247, available 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free, confidential specialist support. Or visit to fill in a webform and request a safe time to be contacted or to access live chat (live chat available 3pm-10pm, Monday to Friday). For support with tech abuse visit