‘Violence against women should be criminalized across Europe’ – Europe

On International Women’s Day, the European Commission will present a bill that will introduce common minimum standards in all EU Member States on prevention, protection, support for victims, access to justice and cooperation and coordination of services, says European Commissioner Helena Dalli.

Violence against women and domestic violence affects all social groups and is still too prevalent in all EU countries. In 2019, 178,000 sexual offenses were registered by the police in the European Union (Source: Eurostat). More than a third were rapes.

When the covid-19 pandemic broke out, we became aware of another pandemic that was spreading just as fast, both in Belgium and in other EU Member States: the increase in violence against women. In Flanders alone, that increased by 70 percent during the second week of the first lockdown.

That is simply unacceptable. Each victim is too many. But even today, there are still inadequate responses to domestic and gender-based violence. It is true that these forms of violence are sometimes difficult to understand, formulate and explain. Although they exist, legal protection systems and response instruments are not infallible. As a result, many rape victims still do not receive adequate support or protection from the justice system.

The coronavirus pandemic prompted action: new means of communication had to be developed for victims who were de facto trapped with their abusers during lockdown, and essential institutional safeguards had to be reinvented. Now is the time to consider whether these new ways of working should become an integral part of our strategies to combat violence against women and domestic violence.

Many Member States have already taken measures, such as the creation of 24/7 helplines, awareness campaigns in pharmacies and increased reception capacity. In some Member States, helpdesks are recognized as essential services so that they can continue to function despite the constraints imposed by the pandemic. These measures are good and positive, but they are not enough. We need to further strengthen our prevention programs and improve services by establishing minimum criteria for the entire EU territory.

Violence against women should be criminalized throughout Europe.

Violence against women and domestic violence are pernicious. As we all know, this happens not only in the public and private sphere, but also online. Online violence against women has spread exponentially. A recent Plan International survey of 14,000 girls around the world found that up to 58 per cent have experienced online harassment and abuse. Too often, the perpetrators go unpunished.

In the fight against such violence, the Istanbul Convention of the Council of Europe is the most effective international legal instrument currently in force. At the time of writing here, six EU Member States have not yet ratified it.

The European Commission remains committed to the ratification of the Treaty, but the lack of prospect of an agreement in the Council has led us to prepare our own legislative proposal to combat violence against women and domestic violence.

On March 8, 2022, International Women’s Day, the European Commission will present a bill that will introduce common minimum standards in all EU Member States in terms of prevention, protection, support for victims, access to justice and cooperation and coordination of services.

We propose criminalizing violence against women, including online violence, such as the unauthorized sharing of and threats of intimate images, videos and/or audio files, and rape, including unauthorized penetration .

Once this new legislation is approved, it will be mandatory to establish specific telephone assistance services for victims of violence. This measure will be reinforced by the creation of a single number for the entire EU, 116 016, which will refer victims to the competent authorities and services wherever they are in the EU.

With this proposal, we can make a difference for women across the EU. I am convinced of that. All we need is the agreement of the European Parliament and the Council. The recent explosion of gender-based violence should prompt Member States to reach a rapid agreement so that women and girls are as best protected as possible from violent sexist behavior that violates their dignity and rights. I hope so with all my heart.

Violence against women and domestic violence affects all social groups and is still too prevalent in all EU countries. In 2019, 178,000 sexual crimes were registered by the police in the European Union (Source: Eurostat). More than a third were rapes. When the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, we became aware of another pandemic spreading at the same speed, both in Belgium and in other EU Member States: the increase in violence against women . In Flanders alone, that increased by 70 percent during the second week of the first lockdown. That is simply unacceptable. Each victim is too many. But even today, there are still inadequate responses to domestic and gender-based violence. It is true that these forms of violence are sometimes difficult to understand, formulate and explain. Although they exist, legal protection systems and response tools are not foolproof. As a result, many rape victims still do not receive adequate support or protection from the justice system. The coronavirus pandemic prompted action: new means of communication had to be developed for victims who were de facto trapped with their abusers during the lockdown, and institutional safeguards had to be reinvented essential. Now is the time to consider whether these new ways of working should become an integral part of our strategies to combat violence against women and domestic violence Many Member States have already taken steps, such as setting up 24-hour helplines day, 7 days a week, awareness campaigns in pharmacies and increase reception capacity. In some Member States, helpdesks are recognized as essential services so that they can continue to function despite the constraints imposed by the pandemic. These measures are good and positive, but they are not enough. We need to further strengthen our prevention programs and improve services by establishing minimum criteria for the entire EU territory. Violence against women and domestic violence are pernicious. As we all know, this happens not only in the public and private sphere, but also online. Online violence against women has spread exponentially. A recent Plan International survey of 14,000 girls around the world found that up to 58 per cent have experienced online harassment and abuse. Too often, perpetrators go unpunished. In the fight against this type of violence, the Istanbul Convention of the Council of Europe is the most effective international legal instrument currently in force. At the time of writing here, six EU Member States have not yet ratified it. The European Commission remains committed to ratifying the Treaty, but the lack of prospects for an agreement in the Council has led us to launch our own draft legislative proposal. to combat violence against women and domestic violence. On March 8, 2022, International Women’s Day, the European Commission will present a bill that will introduce common minimum standards in all EU Member States in terms of prevention, protection, support for victims, access to justice and cooperation and coordination of services. We propose that violence against women, including online violence, such as the unauthorized sharing of intimate images, videos, and/or audio files, as well as threats thereof, and rape, including unauthorized penetration, should be classified as a crime Once this new legislation is adopted, it will be mandatory to enable specific telephone assistance services for victims of violence. This measure will be reinforced by the creation of a single number for the entire EU, 116 016, which will refer victims to the competent authorities and services wherever they are in the EU. With this proposal, we can make a difference for women across the EU. I am convinced of that. All we need is the agreement of the European Parliament and the Council. The recent explosion of gender-based violence should prompt Member States to reach a rapid agreement so that women and girls are as best protected as possible from violent sexist behavior that violates their dignity and rights. I hope so with all my heart.

Leave a Comment