By Laila Namdarkhan
When I first encountered the acronym GREVIO, the first thing that came to my mind was the children’s scary story The Gruffalo, that monster invading children’s dreams. Well, GREVIO could also be regarded as scary as it attempts to monitor state signatories’ actions to tackle the monster in our midst: male violence against women and girls.
GREVIO stands for Group of Experts on Violence Against Women and Girls. This group of experts are appointed by the European Union following the launch of the 2011 Istanbul Convention of Tackling Violence Against Women & Girls. Their role is mandatory, and their task is to monitor the progress of the Convention in the countries that have signed up.
The convention is made up of four pillars: Prevention, Protection, Prosecution, and coordinated Policies.
In early Autumn of 2023, it came to my attention that the UK Government, which had only signed the convention in 2022, had published its first report in July 2023.
Dr Anna Cleaves had also read the report, and we both felt that despite the length and often repetitive GREVIO report from the UK Government, older women were not recognised as a unique group despite the Convention itself specifying that age was a significant barrier to older women’s ability to access protection and assistance from violent acts.
The GREVIO monitors announced they would be visiting the UK in mid-January 2024 and requested submissions arrive via email by the 18th of December 2023.
It was for these reasons that Dr Cleaves and I decided, with OFN consent, to respond to the Government’s report and submit it to the GREVIO. I made personal contact with the GREVIO office and obtained useful information and support from them to assist with our submission. It was agreed at the last OFN Zoom meeting that I should attend the GREVIO round table on the 18th of January, where I shall do my best to present our report and recommendations therein. I should add that, given the short time frame offered by the GREVIO, had it been longer I am sure we could have covered greater ground on this often invisible aspect of older women’s fears about safety and security.