[Brussels, 12 October 2012] “It is time to act! Even if we can see some progress here and there, we are still facing too many challenges, and new ones are being added” was the conclusion drawn last weekend by the experts of the EWL Observatory on Violence against Women. Coming from all over Europe, the experts held their yearly meeting in Brussels on 06-07 October.
At this working meeting, the experts shared their experience and analysis of the most striking issues they are facing: while there is a general need for better implementation of legislation, for more shelters and protection services for women victims of violence, the economic-financial crisis has a direct impact on women, making them more dependent on violent partners and more vulnerable to exploitation. Moreover, the crisis is used as an excuse to reduce funds for NGOs and services dedicated to women victims of violence. In many countries, there is also a backlash on women’s rights and on feminism and equality policies.
The meeting also allowed the experts to discuss strategies to better face the challenges. The Council of Europe Convention on violence against women sets minimum standards and would be a major step if ratified by all countries and the EU. Actions are taking place in several countries, but experts highlighted face resistance for this preparation. Some experts expressed their concern regarding the translation of the Convention text, and called for accurate translations in all languages.
The participants worked together on the next EWL Barometer (the EWL in 2011 published a Barometer on National Action Plans to fight violence against women), which will focus on rape, to make more visible this form of violence against women, and on the responsibility of states regarding prevention, protection, prosecution and sanctions, and compensation for victims. They shared case studies illustrating the gaps, which too often result in the killings of women, but also some good practices. This work on states’ due diligence will be the basis of the EWL contribution to the UN Special Rapporteur on VAW report 2013.
An evening event on 6 October was an opportunity for the experts to meet Belgian NGOs working on violence against women, members of the EWL Belgian Coordination (CFFB and NVR) and know more about specific campaigns they have undertaken/are involved in, as well as to participate in the activities of the EWL campaign for an EU Year to combat violence against women (launch of the petition postcard) and the preparatory phases of the EWL’s One Billion Rising action due in February 2013.
The meeting was supported by the Brussels Region and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES)