Violence against women and domestic violence in relation to the Istanbul Convention

AuthorAnu Laas
10 Violence against women and domestic violence in relation to the Istanbul
10.1 General (legal) context
10.1.1 Surveys and reports on issues of violence against women and domestic violence
According to the annual report on crime in Estonia, 4 119 cases classified as domestic
violence were registered in 2019, making up 15 % of all crime.191 This constitutes a n
increase of 14 % from 20 18. Domestic violence constitutes h alf of all crimes of violence
and 86 % of domestic violence c ases were classified as cases of physical abuse.192 This
shows that other forms of violence are neither r eported nor taken seriously. Pe rpetrators
were partners or ex-partn ers (70 % out of all domestic violence cases), bu t also children
or stepchildren (8 %). This shows that there is underreporting by older victims and elder
abuse remains a hidden issue. 85 % of perpetrators were men and 81 % of victims were
women in domestic violence cases. 97 % perpetrators were men in cases of sexual
Narits, Kaugia and Pettai have published two analyses of surveys from 2014 and 2017.193
The authors found that legal practitioners perceived numerous bottlenecks and uns olved
problems in relation to the existing legislative regulation and legal practice addressing
domestic violence.194 The participants in the surveys perceived an increasing need for
cooperation with law-enforcement agencies in this regard (i.e., to concent rate on
collaboration in relation to domestic violence). However, the authors consider that it is
undoubtedly important to increase the involvement of specialists in the domestic violence
10.1.2 Overview of national acts on violence against women, domestic violence and issues
related to the Istanbul Convention
On 1 January 2015, amendments to Article 121 of th e Penal Code on physical abuse
entered into f orce, enabling aggravating circu mstances. Namely, if physical abuse which
causes pain was committed in a close relationship or relationship of subordin ation or
committed repeatedly, the crime can be punished by a pecuniary punishment or up to five
years’ imprisonment.195
In 2017, the Penal Code (PC) was amended in relation to stalking, female genital
mutilation (FGM), forced marriages and the prohibition of buying sexual services from
trafficking victims. The minimum requirements of the Istanbul Convention were taken into
account. According to the Istanbul Convention, sexual harassment must be subject to
criminal or other legal sanctions. The new Article 153.1 of t he PC defines sexual
harassment as ‘an act of ph ysical sexual nature committed intentionally against
somebody’s will and aiming to degrade’, which is punishable by a fine or detention.
191 Tamm, K. (2020), Perevägivald ja ahistamine(Domestic violence and harassment’), Kuritegevus Eestis
2019 (Crime in Estonia in 2019), Ministry of Justice,
192 Article 121 of the Penal Code.
193 Narits, R., Kaugia, S., Pettai, I. (2016), ‘The significance of recognising domestic violence, in light of
Estonian legal expert opinion and the prospects for systematising the relevant legislation’, Juridica
International, 128138; Narits, R., Kaugia, S., Pettai, I. (2018),Towards a single Government approach
via further consolidation of law and order in Estonia, with domestic violence as an example’, Juridica
International, 104−116.
194 Amendments to the Penal Code entered into force on 6 July 2017.
195 Articles 121(2)(2) and 121(2)(3) of the Penal Code,; These cases consists majority of domestic
violence cases, but could not be used for statistical analysis due to poor wording and there is no
specification to victim-offender relationship. Perpetrator could be coach or boss etc.

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