// We need a mentality change in society

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Violence against women is an everyday occurrence in Germany. Although violence generally involves family members and takes place in the home, this cannot be taken as an excuse to collectively look the other way and trivialise it. Violence against women is not a private affair or a family drama – it is a structural problem affecting society as a whole. A constitutional state must assume responsibility for prosecuting and eradicating this violence. It is also the responsibility of the State to ensure that women are more effectively protected. There is already plenty of legislation in place. However, it is unfortunately not always consistently applied. All too often women are subjected to victim blaming, and violence against women is relativised.

The Council of the European Union adopted the Istanbul Convention in 2011 to provide a solid legal Foundation supporting the fight against psychological and physical violence against women throughout Europe. It is considered to be a milestone and a progressive international instrument for the prevention of gender-based violence. Since then, however, we have not been doing enough to protect women. In fact, the opposite is the case and countries such as Turkey and Poland now want to withdraw from the convention. A high-ranking official in the Polish government party, PiS, recently called the convention ‘gender gibberish’. This statement alone justifies the existence of the convention, highlighting the regressive images of women that are still held, even by political decision makers. And we are not without blame in Germany either: When the Bundestag debated making rape within marriage a punishable crime, 138 MPs voted against it. One of them currently serves as our Minister for the Interior, and another is a frontrunner in the race to be the next CDU party leader.

To encourage women who are subjected to violence to report the perpetrators, we have to change our entire society’s mentality – in politics, in the court system and in the media. Only then can we conduct a successful campaign to permanently eliminate violence.