Greek family law reform puts victims of domestic violence at high risk

On 18 March 2021, the Greek Ministry of Justice launched a public consultation on a bill amending the Civil Code provisions on custody of children to “strengthen the active presence of both parents in the upbringing of the child”.[1]

The provisions of the bill raise alarm as regards compliance with the State’s obligation under the Istanbul Convention to guarantee a gendered understanding of violence against women and “an integrated approach which takes into account the relationship between victims, perpetrators, children and their wider social environment”. Concerns about a backsliding of safeguards against domestic violence are all the more worrying at a critical time of sharply rising domestic violence incidents during the COVID-19 pandemic in Greece,[2] an increase in hate speech against women following the presentation of the bill, and alarming instances of contestation of the Convention by Council of Europe countries.[3]

The Ministry also failed to pay due regard to vulnerable categories of children that will be affected by the provisions such as asylum seekers and refugees, while measures such as interpretation and support from social services, necessary for the determination of the needs of those children and for their access to the relevant procedures, are not foreseen.[4]



  1. Ministry of Justice, Μεταρρυθμίσεις αναφορικά με τις σχέσεις γονέων και τέκνων και άλλα ζητήματα οικογενειακού δικαίου, 18 March 2021,
  2. Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, cited in To Vima, ‘Κορωνοϊός : Η καραντίνα απογείωσε την ενδοοικογενειακή βία’, 24 November 2020:; European Commission, EU strategy on the rights of the child, COM(2021) 142, 24 March 2021, 11.
  3. EEAS, Turkey: ‘Statement on Turkey’s withdrawal of the Istanbul Convention’, 20 March 2021,
  4. UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women and Girls, Report on visit to Greece, A/HRC/44/51/Add.1, 29 June 2020, para 67,


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