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“If he beats you, it means he loves you,” says a Russian proverb which is being used to justify domestic violence and abuse of women and girls in Russia!

The activists of Moscow YABLOKO Youth joined the campaign holding pickets against the initiative to decriminalize domestic violence by the parliament (http://eng.yabloko.ru/?p=16029). They participated in a rally (http://eng.yabloko.ru/?p=16305) against domestic violence as well.
INLW is shocked and infuriated by the new Russian bill by which Russia’s authorities are turning the proverb into legislation.
On February 7th the Russian President Vladimir Putin indeed signed the bill on decriminalization of domestic violence, which the State Duma and the Federation Council of the Russian had adopted shortly before! This while there was so much protest against the bill by Russians, young and old, men and women and international State personalities.
This is despite the fact that the Russian Federation is bound by the European Social Charter, which requires State Parties to protect women and children against violence. Besides that, Russia as member of the European Council of Europe is one of only three out of 47 member States of the Council of Europe who have neither signed nor ratified the Istanbul Convention “On preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence”. This Convention is legally binding and criminalizes all acts of physical, sexual or psychological violence within the family and between former or current spouses and partners.
INLW together with Liberal International have been campaigning for the last years to call upon all states to sign, ratify and implement the contents of the Istanbul Convention. INLW and LI have also called upon the UN to work towards the globalization of the Convention of Istanbul.
It is all the more disturbing to see a member of the European Council regressing in its position towards domestic violence instead of progressing in this field!

We therefore stand behind all those opposing this bill.

Russian liberal YABLOKO party protested against the bill decriminalizing domestic violence against family members which suggests that the abuser will not be held criminally liable, but only will be prosecuted in the administrative order [which envisages fines] if he committed beatings of his family members for the first time. Only in case of repeated violence it will be possible to try and arraign the perpetrator on a criminal charge. In its statement (http://eng.yabloko.ru/?p=16367 ) YABLOKO claims that this law will lead to the increase in the number of victims.

YABLOKO Chair Emilia Slabunova urged the State Duma (the lower chamer of the Russian parliament) that the bill must be turned down and a special law on liability for domestic violence should be passed instead. She also said that the government must create an efficient state mechanism for the prevention of domestic violence, assistance and rehabilitation of victim. (http://eng.yabloko.ru/?p=16042)
Chair of YABLOKO’s Gender faction Galina Mikhaleva claims that this law virtually encourages an assaulter in a family and provides an opportunity for police to refuse investigation of such terrible crimes.
It is not a minor problem in Russia as decriminalization of domestic violence takes place in the situation where 14,000 women die after falling victims of domestic violence every year in Russia! (http://eng.yabloko.ru/?p=16055)

In an effort to raise awareness Deputy Chair of YABLOKO’s Gender faction Olga Radayeva launched a flash mob on the social media against decriminalization of domestic violence calling supporters to share pictures of themselves holding a placard which reads #ЯПротивЗаконаОДекриминализацииСемейногоНасилия
(#I am against domestic violence).

YABOKO Youth in Stavropol conducted a protest action too. (http://eng.yabloko.ru/?p=16299 ) The activists held placards with mocking slogans: “Beatings = family values? Do you beat your wife and children? The state approves of it”, “I was fined 20 000 for a picket. With this money, I could have beaten one of my family members a couple times”.

Earlier Chair of LI Human Rights Committee and LI Vice-President on the Bureau Markus Loening called on President Vladimir Putin not to sign the bill. “Domestic violence is unacceptable under all circumstances. All across the world children and women are suffering beatings by family members. Real men don’t beat their wives or children but protect them from any sort of violence. I call on President Putin not to sign the law. If codified this legislation will serve to further weaken an already deteriorating situation with human rights on the ground in Russia,” he noted. (http://www.liberal-international.org/site/HRC_Chair_Loening_calls_on_Putin_not_to_decriminalize_domestic_violence.html)

LI Human Rights Committee Member, Rosemary Machua, also called on President Vladimir Putin to repeal the law, reminding the Russian state of its obligations under international law. “On behalf of Members of the Africa Liberal Network in the Eastern Africa Region, I call upon President Vladimir Putin to repeal the domestic violence criminalization law and return the bill to the Russian Parliament (DUMA) for review and strengthening of the criminalization of domestic violence,” Ms Machua said. (http://liberal-international.org/site/Russia_must_repeal_domestic_violence_decriminalization_says_HRC_member_Machua.html)
Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland sent a letter to the Chairpersons of the State Duma and the Federation Council of the Russian Federation expressing his deep concern at the legislation which, if adopted, would decriminalize domestic violence in Russia.
“I call upon you to do anything within your powers to strengthen the right of Russian families to live free from violence and intimidation,” he said.
The physical and psychological abuse of women is an extremely serious crime and an assault on their human rights, Jagland wrote. Domestic violence also harms children, either as its direct victims or as witnesses.
“Reducing ‘battery within the family’ from a criminal to an administrative offence, with weaker sanctions for offenders, would be a clear sign of regression within the Russian Federation and would strike a blow to global efforts to eradicate domestic violence.”
He reminded the Russian authorities of their obligations under the European Social Charter and as Members of the European Council. All is to no avail as yet as the bill was signed into law on 7th February.
YABLOKO is convinced that decriminalization of family violence will increase the number of victims, leaving the abusers without real punishment.
INLW advises Yabloko to try and mobilize the Douma to change their mind and start to comply by international law by working towards signing the Istanbul Convention, where after when they have adjusted the domestic laws to comply with the Council of Europe Convention, they will be able to ratify and implement it, which would save thousands of mostly women an children’s lives a year!

Parallel Event 17th March 2017

The INLW Board was represented at the CSW by Khadija El Morabit (Vice President for MENA region), Maysing Yang, (Vice President for Asia), Lysbeth van Valkenburg (Treasurer), Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk (President) and, Leticia Gutíerrez (Member of the Board) and also by INLW member Petra Rona. Joaquima Alemany (Past President) was also present representing Dones Libertatt et Democratia as Chairman.

Unfortunately, because of the winter storm In New York, all programs were cancelled on Tuesday 14th. Luckily for us our parallel event was rescheduled on Friday 17th in the morning.

The main theme of CSW “Women’s economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work” was lead in our choice for the event focusing on:
“Overcoming Challenges facing women in Business in this changing world”.

The objective was to provide an insight into the situation of women starting up business as well as running a business and their possibilities for economic empowerment around the world in these changing times.

Khadija El Morabit (Entrepreneur and General Manager of a hotel business) gave her experience of starting any business as an independent woman in her home country of Morocco. For many years, it was very problematic to start any business as a woman. The reasons are the lack of women’s economic autonomy, due to illiteracy, low level of wages and income; unequal sharing of domestic chores; lack of places of child care and the high prices; lack of access to decision-making power related to the economy and lack of access to resources and means of production. But fortunately, the possibilities are better today. Feminine entrepreneurship is recognized now as source of growth, job creation, innovation and wealth in Morocco. Still the lack of publicity about public institutions that help and support entrepreneurship for women and the fact that many businesses make a start via an entrepreneurship, where business is integrated in a parental company and the fact that women do not inherit the family business is a great disadvantage for women entrepreneurs and poses a problem for specific support programs dedicated to these women entrepreneurs who want to start their own business.

Our Member from Asia (Taiwan), Maysing Yang (Vice President for Asia), gave her view of possibilities in her region. When she started her own business, she had to have a man as president without his signature she could not start a business so she started as a vice-president in her own company to get started. It takes many years to start a business, certainly if you don’t want to bribe any people to start. The education for girls is getting better so in the future opportunities will improve but men get jobs more easily than women. In any question of heritage in Asia the eldest son inherits the assets. That is going to be changed but the culture is not so easily changed so it will take many years to get this working.
The government is investing in women and recently a law has been adopted to assist start-ups.

One of the things women must do more, is investing in their network! The men meet each other for instance after work and build their network, through this male network many jobs are given to men. Women often underestimate the importance of mingling with other women and men.In the new age, you can see that young people try to find each other via on-line communities. Investing in ICT and knowledge of all its possibilities is very important for the future.

Our Speaker from the Netherlands, Jaqueline Prins, had already left after the winter storm for her job in the Netherlands.

We were happy to welcome Antia Wiersma, deputy Director Atria – Netherlands Institute for Gender Equality and Women’s History.

Antia Wiersma gave us some insight in the women empowerment in the Netherlands. There are still many women working part time (75% of women compared to 22% of men). Unfortunately, this also means that only 54 % of the working women are economically independent and many women work in the less paid jobs and are paid less. World Wide, women only make 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. This also influences the gender pay gap which amounts to 22%. Young women start out earning more being highly educated, but by age 30 they earn less than men.

In the Dutch parliament 36 % of the parliamentarians are women. On the Dutch TV 1 in 3 persons in the talk shows are women and only 12 % of the experts that are asked to participate are women. So, although many things are well arranged for women there are still quite some things to improve.

One of the discussions in the Netherlands is about maternity leave and if a quota about the number of women working in decision-making positions in companies and the government is a clever idea.
“We have to educate the girls about the importance of economic empowerment and independence”. Mrs. Wiersma told that “by pushing the women into the working market and implementing equal pay for men and women we can really make progress for our young girls”. We want to achieve gender equality by 2030 (Planet 50/50 by 2030). We must all recognize the gender gap in work and employment and create a cohesive action-orientated plan. A plan that challenges individuals as well as the public and private sector.
“A black list of companies who are not paying equal might work, as in Switzerland”. Companies are not allowed to work for the government if they don’t show their intentions to really pay equal and have enough women in the top.
Mrs. Wiersma is convinced that if the Netherlands doesn’t take more action it will not be able to reach the 50/50 in 2030 deadline that has been agreed upon worldwide.

As what to do for the future:
It is clear there are too few women in the so-called STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and ICT jobs. That world is still a men’s world and this must change as this is where the new jobs in the changing world will be!
In the changing world of the 4th revolution 1 in 4 women will lose their job while 1 in 20 men will lose their job. That is a challenge which must be worked on for instance by lifelong learning.
The interesting discussion between the group attending the event and the panelists gave some conclusions.
Even more insight is needed in the battle to reach the 50/50 goal.
Some of the young participants also pointed out the importance of ICT and reliable data collecting to get an insight of the results of some measures that are taken by countries all over the world. By reliable data you can enlighten the political parties so that necessary measures can be taken.
They also mentioned young women in Asia often prefer marriage to seeking jobs.
More access to finance is needed, whereby barriers of laws and rules concerning ownership of property and land; inheritance; loans only with guarantees and higher interest rates must be taken away.
Putting an effort to getting a good network is important in any business for men and women. Women must learn to make use of it and keep it up.
Moderator, Mrs. de Vos van Steenwijk, finally thanked all participants for their information and interesting discussion.

Lysbeth van Valkenburg-Lely
Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk-Groeneveld


Dear INLW members,

We want to thank you for your support and wish you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful Holiday Season.
We wish you a Happy, Healthy and hopefully more Peaceful New Year!
Let all our endeavors for the rights of women in every part of the world be fruitful, so that let all women and girls be able to achieve their dreams in security.

On behalf of all Board Members of INLW,

Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk-Groeneveld, President

Hakima El Haite, Mireia Huerta Sala, Lysbeth van Valkenburg-Lely, Kaba Fofana Yaya Fanta, Marianne Kallen-Morren, Khadija El Morabit, Maysing Yang, Patricia Olamendi, Leticia Gutierrez


As you know, INLW’s President was asked by the International Women’s Peace Group (IWPG) to participate at a Conference in September in Seoul, South Korea. As President of INLW Margaret de Vos represented INLW at different events.

The aim of this enormous Conference was to advocate the Declaration on Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW) which was proclaimed on the 14th of March 2016 in Seoul, which in the end should result in an international legal binding document to be adopted by the United Nations and then signed, ratified and implemented by all UN Member States. This to help bring peace everywhere.

The IWPG have begun by advocating this DPCW within the world women’s organizations, and this was the reason for inviting INLW.

At this moment two of the members who are advocating this DPCW, Amy Park and Kate Kim, are in the Netherlands and making contact with different organizations.

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“Freedom of Belief in an Era of Radicalization” was the theme of Liberal International Human Rights Committee (LI HRC) and the Network of Liberal Parliamentarians on Human Rights which met at the European Parliament, Brussels on December 5th – 6th.

Khadija el Morabit Vice President of INLW and member of LI HRC and Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk as INLW President participated at this special LI event.

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Margaret de Vos van Steenwijk (President INLW) and Marianne Kallen (Vice President Europe) attended ALDE Congress in Warsaw.

Various subjects were discussed in different forum Meetings:
• the future of EU-Nato,
• Tackling Cybersecurity Challenges in an Evolving Digital Landscape Cooperation,
• The future of the European Economy Post-Brexit,
• Machines, Jobs and Equality: Technological change and the labor market in Europe.
• How does media reporting shape the outcome of Elections?

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INLW Deputy President and Minister of the Environment of Morocco, Hakima El Haite (Mouvement Populaire), has been awarded France’s Legion of Honour: the highest honour for a civilian.

Hakima El Haite said that she was very honored to receive this distinction. As she said; “This decoration reflects the excellence of the friendship which unites Morocco and France. I will continue to campaign for the protection of the environment as a human right.”

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