Inauguration of the photo exhibition “Break the silence on domestic violence”

(Strasbourg, 27 March 2007)

Speech by Halvdan Skard, Congress President

Secretary General,

Madame le Maire,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Domestic violence is killing by another name. Domestic violence kills even when it does not end in death. It kills love and affection. It kills respect and friendship. It kills relationships and marriages. Finally, it kills people.

For far too long we have been turning a deaf ear to the screams from behind closed doors and drawn curtains. For far too long we have been treating domestic violence as a family business, a matter of private life. This must stop. Violence is a crime in any form, and domestic violence is no exception. This is the reason for this Council of Europe campaign. This is the reason for this exhibition, organised jointly by the Congress and the Parliamentary Assembly, whose title, “Break the silence on domestic violence”, clearly reflects our position, our commitment to break the wall of silence and put an end to this scourge blighting our society.

We are here today because domestic violence is not the issue for governments alone. It concerns all of us – government officials, parliamentarians, local and regional authorities, civil society and NGOs. But, I would say, local and regional authorities in particular, because they face the immediate impact of domestic violence and are the first to deal with the consequences.

Hence the strong involvement of the Congress in this campaign, and we are grateful for the active support of the City of Strasbourg, and in particular Madame le Maire Fabienne Keller and her Deputy and member of our Congress Pascal Mangin, who are both present here, as well as the City of Brescia and Valerio Prignachi, Chair of our Committee on Social Cohesion, and all other municipalities which joined in this campaign.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In these photos, you will see parliamentarians and local and regional elected representatives expressing their feelings about domestic violence against women. There are but a few here. But we all must, in our cities and our regions, in our parliaments and our governments, raise our voice and say loud and clear: “Domestic violence is not a private matter. Domestic violence is a crime”. It is high time we do so. It has been long overdue. We owe this to the victims.

Thank you.



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