EWL News

Letter to the Belgian Presidency regarding the Directive on combating violence against women

[26 January 2024, Brussels] Disappointed by the most recent developments in these last weeks of negotiations on the first-ever EU law to combat violence against women, the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) sent a letter to the Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

EWL members across Europe are outraged by the disgraceful decision of the Council of the EU, led by the Belgian Presidency, to persist in blocking a consent-based definition of rape (based on the standards of the Istanbul Convention) in the proposed Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence.

While EWL acknowledges that the Belgian Presidency might have tried extensively to save the article on a consent-based definition of rape in the Directive before the end of the political mandate, we are extremely disappointed about this outcome and dismayed given the negative impact that this decision will have on the lives of women’s and girls. There are still 15 EU Member States that hold definitions of rape that fall behind the standards of the Istanbul Convention not offering adequate protection for victims of rape.

Despite the persistent calls of women’s and survivors’ organisations, citizens, andlegal experts, the Council of the EU has decided to let down all women and girls to protect them from one of the most heinous crimes of sexual violence and rape. The unacceptable political choice of Germany and France, in particular, raises concerns about the Belgian presidency of the Council of the European Union, and its commitment to the fight against violence against women and also women’s rights.

That is why we call on the Belgian Presidency to agree on the European Parliament’s proposals and red lines on the prevention of VAWG crimes, including sexual violence, on protection and early intervention, on specialised support to victims and prosecution, access to justice and reparation; and on data collection.

Finally, EWL is hugely disappointed to see that the crucial informal meeting of Ministers of Justice that took place on 26/01 led by the Belgian presidency did not have the Directive on combating violence against women amongst its priorities. Please, find here a statement in this regard.

We trust in the ability of the Belgian Presidency to reconduct the situation and conclude negotiations towards a Directive that makes Europe a safer place for all women and girls.

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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