President’s poll on Istanbul Convention draws criticism – it ‘doesn’t add clarity’

The 2011 Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence – better known as the Istanbul Convention – has yet to be ratified by the Lithuanian parliament, but has drawn opposition from socially conservative MPs and activists.

The office of President Gitanas Nausėda has commissioned a poll, asking respondents “Do you agree that Lithuania has to ratify the Istanbul Convention?”

Almost half, or 48.8 percent, said they “disagree” or “rather disagree”, while 22.1 percent of those polled said they fully or rather agreed. Another 29.2 percent had no opinion on the issue, reported. The pollster Vilmorus polled 1,001 people by phone between April 8 and 17.

Professor Aušra Maslauskaitė of Vytautas Magnus University says that the president’s poll does not show what the public actually thinks about fighting violence against women.

“The single question, as it is formulated, does not give us the Lithuanian public’s opinion on the Istanbul Convention,” the sociologist said. “What it may tell us is that they have heard the document mentioned somewhere in the media.”

Another scientist, Milda Ališauskienė of Vytautas Magnus University, says that the polling itself merely pours fuel on the fire and does not advance informed discussion.

“The question is improperly worded, since it is not clear what is meant by the ‘Istanbul Convention’,” she told LRT RADIO. “The fact that the public has been agitated over the document thus named does not tell us anything about the problems it addresses.”

“This poll tells us the society is agitated, […] but not what it thinks about domestic violence, sexual violence and its prevention, […] the assistance currently available, or relations between genders,” she added.

“We saw a lot of disinformation and politicking around this issue [the Istanbul Convention] throughout winter and early spring, as well as non-constructive discussion, so I am surprised to see this poll which, I agree, does not add any clarity,” she added.

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