EWL News

EWL supports MEPs’ call for EU action to end violence against women in Europe

[Brussels, 11 April 2013] The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) was pleased to take part yesterday in a whole afternoon dedicated to the issue of violence against women in the European Parliament, supported by a dozen committed MEPs. The group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D) organised a hearing on 10 April to bring the issue of violence against women back on the political agenda and to reflect upon a possible EU action to end this pervasive violation of women’s rights. Hosted by MEP Corina Cretu, Vice-President of the S&D Group, the conference aimed at presenting the current state of play and hearing from experts and NGOs about possible ways forward.

MEPs Hannes Swoboda, Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg, Zita Gurmai, Britta Thomsen, Emine Bozkurt and Silvia Costa contributed to the discussion, while their colleagues Edite Estrela, Iratxe Garcia Perez, Minodora Cliveti, Vasilica Dancila, Silvia-Adriana Ticau, and Patrizia Toia attended the event with great attention, many of them being involved in a drafting or shadowing of reports within the European Parliament addressing the issue or related issues.

Representatives of NGOs were invited to present their views and demands, based on their on the ground experience. Besides the Italian NGO Casa donne maltrattate and Save the Children Romania, the EWL had the opportunity to remind participants of the importance of a comprehensive policy framework to combat violence against women:

  • Such framework must be based on a clear and strong definition of violence against women. According to the first results of the Barometer that the EWL is developing on rape, at least 18 EU Member States have a definition of rape which is incomplete or very far from the Council of Europe definition in the Istanbul Convention.
  • Priority should be given to ending impunity and coordinating efforts in this perspective. In Lithuania, almost 20% of women in marital situation experience violence from their partner, and only 1.8% of registered calls regarding domestic violence lead to the initiation of legal proceedings.
  • Protecting women is crucial and should be equally provided to all women in Europe. EU Member States have varied and diverse systems of protection: some evict a perpetrator from home for a month, some only for 48 hours, some don’t have any such protection measures…
  • The lack of policy framework to combat violence against women leads to a failure to provide services to victims. In Europe today, in order to comply with the Council of Europe standards (which are minimum standards), we would need to create 54 000 more shelter places for women.
  • Prevention actions are crucial: women need to be informed about their rights and society needs to stop tolerating violence against women. According to the first outcomes of the survey conducted by the FRA on violence against women, 2 in 5 women were unaware of political initiatives to protect them in cases of domestic violence. About half of the women interviewed said that they had avoided public or private situations because they were afraid that they might be physically or sexually assaulted.
  • Any comprehensive strategy should foresee partnering with women’s NGOs, including financial support, and making sure that they are part of the elaboration, implementation and monitoring of any policy against violence against women.

EWL Policy Officer Pierrette Pape presented women’s organisations arguments for an EU action, including the economic argument, in a context of crisis and austerity measures having a detrimental impact on the scope of violence against women and on the ability of women to be protected and escape violence. According to a European study, male domestic violence costs 1 million euros every half hour. The same study found out that in France, by increasing the budget allocated to the prevention of domestic violence by one euro, it is estimated that the state, health insurance and local authorities could make savings of up to 87 Euros of social spending, including 30 Euros of direct expenses.

Finally, the EWL recalled that the EU Strategy for Equality between women and men is and should remain the broader policy framework for the EU action on women’s rights, and should be continued in 2015 with a strong focus on ending violence against women. The EWL calls on the EU and its Member States to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on violence against women, and on the EU to develop a strong strategy with concrete actions, starting with 2015 as EU Year to End Violence against Women.

To read the press release of the S&D group on the event, click here.

Click here to download Pierrette Pape’s full presentation.

Click here to find out more about the Istanbul Convention.

On the photo : MEP Britta Thomsen, S&D gender adviser Valborg Linden Jonsten, MEP Corina Cretu and MEP Lidia Joanna Geringer de Oedenberg.

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Loud and United to end violence against women and girls, European Women’s Lobby Conference, 6 December 2017, Brussels.

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