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Istanbul Convention: Study Aims to Shed Light on Violence Against Women

The University of Bremen is looking for women who have experienced violence and are willing to share their experiences with the help system for a study.


The Institute of Public Health and Nursing Research (IPP) is looking for women for a study who have experienced violence and will speak about their experiences with the help system in Bremen and Bremerhaven. The results should provide information on where there is a need for improvement in the counseling and assistance facilities. The study is part of a plan by the state of Bremen to implement the so-called Istanbul Convention, which came into force in Germany in January 2018.

“Violence against women and children is a structural element of our society. The Istanbul Convention identifies this violence as a human rights violation,” says Professor Henning Schmidt-Semisch of the Department of Health and Society at the University of Bremen’s Institute of Public Health and Nursing Research. Together with PD Dr. Iris Stahlke, he is leading the “Study to Determine the Experiences of Women* Affected by Violence in the Bremen Help System” (“Studie zur Ermittlung der Erfahrungen von Gewaltbetroffenen Frauen* im Bremer Hilfesystem”), which they and their team are conducting on behalf of the Senator for Health, Women, and Consumer Protection.

Istanbul Convention Forces Countries to Protect Victims of Violence

The Istanbul Convention is the first legally binding regional instrument to address various forms of violence against women. It obligates the federal and state governments to prevent and effectively combat violence, ensure prosecution, and provide comprehensive protection for those affected by violence. To this end, all relevant state authorities, institutions, and organizations are to cooperate, with the involvement of nongovernmental organizations and civil society.

Focus on Experiences with Authorities and Agencies

“We want to find out what experiences the women affected have had, for example, with counseling centers, the police, or in public offices,” explains Iris Stahlke. “Although we have already started the surveys, we are still looking for more women to share their experiences with us.” The Bremen Senate hopes to gather more clues in order to make targeted improvements in the help system.

The special feature: It is primarily about the perspective of the affected women. Bremen was the first German state to establish an advisory board for affected women as part of the implementation of the Istanbul Convention. The study by the Institute of Public Health and Nursing Research is now a further step. “The fact that the subjective experience of the women is included could serve as a model for other countries,” emphasizes Professor Henning Schmidt-Semisch. In November, the results will be presented at a national symposium.

Further Participants Sought

Participants are still being sought for the study. Women affected by violence who have sought help in Bremen or Bremerhaven in the last five years and are willing to talk about their experiences with the help system can take part.

If you are interested in participating, please register your interest by sending an email to: hilfesystem-studie@uni-bremen.de or by calling: +49 421 218-68879 (Tuesdays 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Thursdays 9 a.m. to noon).

More information on the Istanbul Convention (in German) is available at: bremen-sagt-nein.de.

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