Minister of Justice Andres Anvelt signed the Council of Europe convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, making Estonia the 37th country to sign the document.
"I am glad that Estonia too is now among the countries that not only talks about how bad violence is, but has made a promise to actively fight against it and taken on a number of specific duties by signing the convention," said Anvelt, who met Thorbjørn Jagland, the secretary general of the Council of Europe.
The so-called Istanbul Convention is an international agreement that obliges the signatories to fully address gender-based violence in all its forms and to take measures to prevent it, protect its victims and prosecute the perpetrators.
By signing the convention Estonia also agreed to pay more attention to the preventive measures, including public awareness campaigns, seminars, study-materials for schools, victim support, counselling, issues of gender equality and stereotypes, and treatment programs for perpetrators and sex offenders.
From January 1, committing a domestic violence-related crime in the presence of a former family member or a minor will become an aggravating circumstance and acts of domestic violence will be penalized more severely.
The Ministry of Justice is also preparing a victim support directive.
The Convention still needs to be ratified by the Estonian Parliament. The convention has so far been ratified by 15 signatories.