EWL News

Historical moment! European Women’s Lobby Applauds the Adoption of first ever EU Directive Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence

[Brussels, 24 April 2024] – The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) extends its heartfelt gratitude to all women’s rights organisations, dedicated frontline activists, survivors, and feminist decision-makers whose unwavering dedication has culminated in the European Parliament’s landmark adoption of the first-ever EU Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence. This means that all women and girls will have equal minimum rights to protection regardless of where they live in Europe.

This monumental achievement is the result of decades of collective advocacy by EWL members, who have tirelessly campaigned for the rights and safety of women and girls across Europe. We express our deepest appreciation to every individual and organisation that has contributed to this historic realisation of one of EWL’s priority goals since its establishment 35 years ago.

"We are immensely proud of this historic achievement in our ongoing fight for equality between women and men and the eradication of violence against women and girls," said Iliana Balabanova, President of the European Women’s Lobby. "The adoption of this Directive marks a crucial step towards ensuring the safety and protection of women and girls in all spheres of life, including online."

The EWL commends the European Parliament for recognising the urgent need to address violence against women and domestic violence, both offline and online. As highlighted in the EWL’s analysis of the agreed text, with this Directive the EU recognises for the first time that violence against women is an obstacle to achieving equality between women and men for which the EU has an obligation to fulfil, as stipulated in the treaties.

"This Directive sets crucial obligations for all EU Member States to uphold their legal obligations and policies to end violence against women. We urge Member States to immediately put in place this set of comprehensive rules to save women’s and girls’ lives”, said Mary Collins, EWL Secretary General.

“Member States must take into account the indispensable expertise of women’s organisations and women’s specialist services in the front line addressing all forms of violence against women and supporting its survivors with a gender-sensitive and intersectional perspective”,
said Laura Kaun, EWL Policy and Campaigns Director.

While celebrating this significant milestone, the European Women’s Lobby regrets the blockage of several key aspects of the Directive by the Council, especially the infuriating decision imposed by France and Germany to exclude Article 5 on the harmonised definition of rape based on consent in line with v the standards of the Istanbul Convention. “It is a completely hypocritical and a terrible missed opportunity to protect women and girls from one of the most heinous forms of violence and address the shameful levels of impunity of perpetrators. History will prove that sexual violence is an EU issue no country is immune to, and a strategy to control and silence women. It is imperative to have the best legislative tools for prevention and to ensure that survivors access justice and reparation now! ” says Irene Rosales, Senior Policy Advisor at EWL.

The EWL remains committed to further improving the Directive and extending its scope. We will continue to advocate for the recognition of violence against women as an EU crime, including rape, sexual harassment at work, forced sterilisation, and the full scope of sexual and reproductive violence against women.

The European Women’s Lobby reaffirms its dedication to advancing women’s rights and ending all forms of violence against women i. Together, we will continue to work towards a Europe where every woman and girl is safe to live a life free from male violence and discrimination.

Latest video

EWL event "Progress towards a Europe free from all forms of male violence" to mark the 10th aniversary of the Istanbul Convention, 12 May 2021.

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