Warsaw: Poland`s parliament voted Friday to ratify a treaty combatting violence against women, despite considerable opposition from the right and the country`s powerful Catholic Church.
Lawmakers voted by 254 to 175 in favour of adopting the 2011 Istanbul Convention, the world`s first binding instrument to prevent and combat violence against women, from marital rape to female genital mutilation. Eight lawmakers abstained.
Critics claim the treaty links violence to religion and tradition. The Polish episcopate said the convention is based on "extremist, neo-Marxist gender theory".
The Church has recently used the English word "gender" as a catch-all term referring to a range of issues including contraception, abortion and homosexuality.
Parties to the convention have an obligation to "prevent violence, protect its victims, prosecute the perpetrators" and to provide adequate shelter to domestic violence victims.
Sixteen countries have ratified it to date: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Denmark, France, Italy, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Portugal, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Turkey.
A further 21 countries have signed the text, but not yet ratified it.
One in three women in Europe has experienced physical or sexual assault, according to a report last year by the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights.
The agency interviewed 42,000 women aged 18-74 from the European Union`s 28 countries, producing the world`s most comprehensive study of its kind to date.
Nordic countries came off badly, with 52 percent of women in Denmark saying they have suffered physical and/or sexual abuse, while the rate was 47 percent in Finland and 46 percent in Sweden.
At the other end of the scale, the report found that 19 percent of women in Poland said they had suffered in the same way, 22 percent in Spain and 21 percent in Croatia.