European Women’s Lobby calls on the European Parliament not to throw the baby out with the bathwater!

We urge the European Parliament to be united and adopt the long awaited law on violence against women and girls in Europe.

[Brussels, 31 January 2024] The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) reiterates its deep outrage at the Council of the EU’s decision to persistently refute the inclusion of a harmonised definition of rape based on consent in the proposed Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence (herein referred to as ‘the Directive’). However, we call on the MEPs from all political groups to support their negotiating team. It is imperative to be united and adopt the Directive before the end of this current mandate. We call on all the political groups to seize this current window of opportunity, that women’s organisations have fought for almost 30 years, and take responsibility now. This is what women and girls in Europe expect from the political leaders to guarantee equal protection throughout the European Union (EU), particularly at this crucial moment as the clock is ticking before the European elections and a potential shift to extreme forces is to be expected.

The Directive on violence against women and domestic violence brings a crucial layer of EU obligations to all and every single one of the Member States, on top of the obligations of those states that are parties to the Istanbul Convention (22 EU Member States). The Directive is a fundamental specific instrument to address the concrete needs and challenges faced by victims of violence against women and domestic violence; it is a fundamental tool to complement the horizontal approach of the Victim’s Rights Directive, currently under review. The Directive follows the 4Ps approach of the Istanbul Convention: Prevention and early intervention, protection, prosecution and coordinated policies. This Directive aims at bringing a comprehensive a specialised package of measures applicable to all victims of violence against women and domestic violence as per national definitions and also to victims of cyberviolence, FGM and, very importantly, also to rape victims for the clinical management of rape (Article 28), to victims of forced sterilization (Article 29) and victims of sexual harassment at the workplace (Article 30).

The negotiating team of the European Parliament is making a remarkable effort to ensure that the Directive falls within and/or above the “golden standards” of the Istanbul Convention. They have achieved significant progress when compared to the initial proposal made by the Council in its General Approach; and the initial proposal of the European Commission. For example, the current proposal strengthens the definitions of forms of cyberviolence- that were not defined in the Istanbul Convention - as a decade ago, it was unimaginable that the exponential explosion of online violence would become an everyday reality for millions of women and girls in Europe. The Directive closes this massive gulf in the legislative framework on impunity.

Now it is the time to be united as one single voice at the European Parliament to ensure that the Belgian Presidency delivers a strong Directive on time. More information on our demands for the Belgian Presidency can be found here.

The clock is ticking.

This Directive will have a huge impact on the lives of women and girls not only today but for future generations. They will see that Europe does care.

Let this be your legacy.

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The European Women’s Lobby is the largest umbrella organization of women’s associations in Europe. Founded in 1990, the EWL works to promote women’s rights and equality between women and men and represents more than 2000 organizations across Europe.

Mary Collins
Secretary General

Irene Rosales
Policy and Campaigns Officer

Laura Kaun
Policy and Campaigns Director

Mirta Baselovic
Communications and Media Coordinator

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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