[Brussels, 5 March 2014] The Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) has unveiled this week the results of the first European wide survey on violence against women, revealing the extent of abuse suffered by women at home, work, in public and on-line. The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) welcomes the report of the Fundamental Rights Agency as it provides a picture on the seriousness of the problem everywhere in Europe. The survey shows the wide and extremely high prevalence of violence against women: one in three women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15; one in five women has experienced stalking; every second woman has been confronted with one or more forms of sexual harassment. Violence against women is far to high everywhere in Europe: urgent change is needed. As you can read below, the European Women’s lobby is calling the EU action to end violence against women.
The EWL praises the effort of the FRA on the survey on violence against women and welcomes the framing of violence against women as a gross violation of human and women’s rights. In the understanding that having comparable and reliable data showing the scale of the problem will be a call for action ad informed based policies, the European Women’s Lobby has been calling for a European prevalence survey since 1999, when the EWL carried out the first attempt to collect and unveil the Hidden Data on Domestic Violence in the EU.
The FRA survey it is very thorough: it is based on face-to-face interviews with more than 42000 women in all 28 EU member States. It shows the wide prevalence of violence against women: one in three women has experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15. Furthermore, one in five women has experienced stalking and every second woman has been confronted with one or more forms of sexual harassment. 5% of women have been raped since the age of 15 (understanding rape in a narrow way, under the condition of the use of physical force). You can download the report here.
Unfortunately, the results are not shocking to the EWL who has been warning about the high scale of all the different forms of violence against women and calling for action for more than 10 years.
As these results show, violence against women is far too high everywhere in Europe. It is indeed even higher as this survey does not take into account the women who everyday die as result of domestic violence. Trafficking in women for sexual exploitation or the lack of access to sexual and reproductive health and rights are not either considered in the survey as a form of violence against women.
We need to be very cautious when interpreting these data and specially the differences among countries. There is no one explanation but multiple factors are in correlation. A possible explanation could be that in the countries where gender equality is higher and more services are provided to support women victims of violence, women may be used to talk more about their experience of violence. They might also be more aware of their rights to integrity and to live free from violence. It is also likely that in places where women are not familiar with this type of survey, they feel less encouraged to talk about their experience of violence. Unfortunately, it can also be that in countries where women are reaching more gender equality, some men’s are reacting more violently - this is illustrated by the huge percentage of sexual harassment, more commonly experienced by women with a university degree and by women in the highest occupational groups : for example, 75 % of pm women in the top management category have experienced sexual harassment.
A lot of effort needs to be done now to carefully analyse these data.The European Women’s Lobby and all its members across Europe will be committed to this task. Furhtermore, we need to ensure the use of the data by the national and European Public Authorities to put in place effective legislation and adequate resources to end this enormous human’s right violation.
In this regard, the European Women’s Lobby welcomes the publication of the European Commission fact sheetexplaining its actions to combat violence against women. However, much more action is needed in the view of the data and the scale of the problem, as highlighted by the recently approved European Parliament Resolution on Combating Violence against Women.
The European Women’s lobby calls the EU to:
- A European comprehensive strategy and a European action plan to end violence against women.
- To establish 2016 as the European year to end violence against women.
- The ratification by the EU of the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
Furthermore, a holistic and comprehensive approach to violence against women and gender equality is needed. Following this link you can download EWL Manifesto for the European Parliament Elections 2014 "Act now for her future, commit to gender equality!" in which this comprehensive approach is detailed.
Videos presenting the Fundamental Rights Agency Survey: