Iris Luarasi PhD. is a professor in the Department of Journalism and Communications at the University of Tirana. She is the First Vice President of GREVIO at Council of Europe. She leads for 20 years the Counselling Line for Women and Girls (the National Helpline for victims of DV and VAW) and the first male centre in Albania – Counselling Line for Men and Boys that tries to rehabilitate perpetrator of domestic violence and works on the prevention with young boys in the country and fatherhood campaigns. Luarasi also trains Albanian journalists in human rights, journalism ethics, fake news, hate speech and sexism. Her research and publishing activities include leading a study on domestic violence and sex crimes, a guide for reporters on Gender Based Violence and sexual assault and authoring two books on radio journalism and media in Albania.



Istanbul Convention and its “threat of destroying the norms of families”
Istanbul Convention, the treaty of the Council of Europe on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence have been considered a "gold standard" by the UN. Why the Convention is so important to women? The Istanbul Convention is the first-ever legally binding set of guidelines that creates “a comprehensive legal framework and approach to combat violence against women”.

Ratification of this treaty means a legal obligation to apply a gendered perspective to the different forms of violence, which women experience.

Now specifically we need to talk and address concerns raised from “gender ideology” and “gender theory” that have mounted a growing challenge against generally accepted human rights terminology and principles.

The presentation will cover some of that and also a brief history of what happened in recent years with the backlash of the convention.

Some countries considered this definition as too broad and feared it could be interpreted to make way for the allowance of a third gender.

What could be so dangerous to work for the full achievement of gender equality? There are several reasons based on fears for the fate of a traditional society and the need to justify limiting women to stereotypical role

The most important thing is to emphasize that there is no undertone or “hidden agenda” to the Istanbul Convention. The Convention is based on tried and tested policies and legislation which have produced positive results at the level of the member states and contains several provisions which challenge persistent ideas about the inferiority of women compared to men and about the roles and behaviours that women and men should have in the private and public spheres.

As a GREVIO expert I could mention many positive impact that the Convention had in many countries. Many laws are being changed to ensure better criminalization of the different forms of violence against women.

There is an increase in the number of national telephone helplines for victims which are a lifeline for women and we have seen an increase in the number of specialist support services for victims of sexual violence. The most important thing, Istanbul Convention is having a positive impact on the lives of women across Europe. But there is a lot more to be done by human rights activists in order to address gender inequality and ignore the reality of gender diversity or the evolution of European human rights law. The Istanbul Convention is not pushing an agenda which would “jeopardise” the social fabric and values of societies and nor does it impose any life choices on women or men.