During last night's European Parliament plenary debate discussing the steps needed to end forced marriage against girls, GUE/NGL MEPs highlighted the pressing need for the EU and its member states to ratify the Istanbul convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

Italian GUE/NGL MEP Elenora Forenza said: “This in an issue which talks not only about violence against minorities and children forced into marriage, but also male violence against women. We need to work to ensure the full application of the Convention. We also must keep the Convention in mind when discussing EU trade relations. “

She continued: “We must create more awareness inside the Union for young girls and ensure more educational resources are given to raising awareness of and combatting this practice.”

Spanish MEP Ángela Vallina added: “Thirty-nine thousand girls are forced to marry every day and the roots of these forced marriages lie in poverty; this is a human rights issue.

“I want to know when the EU will sign the Istanbul Convention and declare 2016 as The European Year against Gender Violence.

“We are convinced that without equality there is no development, no justice and no democracy.”

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