On 2 October 2020, Italian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Luisa Regimenti of the Identity and Democracy Group, raised a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“As attested by the WHO and the FEMM parliamentary committee, during the months of forced lockdown owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an exponential increase in violent acts against women committed by their partners. Member States have reported an increase of up to 60 % in the number of emergency calls by women attacked by their partners in April, compared to the same month the previous year.
In this situation, which is still an emergency, it has been noted that Europe, more than ever before, has a structural lack of women’s refuges and shelters, the numbers and capacities of which are not tailored to victims’ actual needs.
Given that the Rights and Values programme 2021-2027 is still being considered by the Council and that there are apparently no available open calls for proposals in order to allocate funding for victim reception centres, can the Commission say:
1. what financial instruments can be made immediately available to Member States for the establishment of new refuges and facilities for those seeking shelter from violence;
2. what other measures, guidelines or promotion of the exchange of good practices (e.g. concerning codewords or alert systems) does the EU intend to take in order to provide tangible support to the growing number of women who are victims of violence?”
On 22 December, Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli, responded on behalf of the European Commission stating:
“Tackling violence against women is a priority for the Commission. The EU’s accession to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence remains a key objective. The Convention requires its parties to ensure that shelters are accessible in sufficient numbers and adequately distributed across the country.
The Commission also intends to issue a proposal to combat gender-based violence, as indicated in its 2021 work programme.
The Commission has organised a series of online seminars on gender-sensitive response measures to the COVID-19 pandemic targeted to Member State representatives. One seminar focused on good practices to tackle domestic violence.
The Commission will also continue to fund organisations tackling gender-based violence through the Rights, Equality and Citizenship programme and its successor.
The European Social Fund (ESF) puts a strong emphasis on gender equality and non-discrimination. ESF addresses violence against women by, for example, promoting the recognition of various forms of violence, supporting capacity-building of relevant professionals, and supporting victims. This approach will be pursued through the ESF+ for the period 2021-2027.
The European Regional Development Fund tackles gender-based violence by supporting women’s employment, childcare services, as well as access to specialised support services, social housing and shelter for women victims of violence.”
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