Stop violence against women: Statement by the European Commission and the High Representative

Stop violence against women: Statement by the European Commission and the High Representative

Violence against women and girls is a widespread and devastating human rights violation that takes place across the globe. The World Health Organisation estimates that one third of women and girls worldwide experience violence at some point in their live. These numbers are only the tip of the iceberg, as this type of violence remains largely unreported due to the stigma and shame surrounding it. As a result, many perpetrators remain unpunished.

As stated in the Gender Equality Strategy, the European Commission will facilitate the development of a new framework for cooperation with online platforms to tackle online violence against women, propose a recommendation on the prevention of harmful practices, and launch an EU network on the prevention of gender-based violence and domestic violence.

The European Commission is working on concluding the EU accession to the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. Should the EU’s accession to the Istanbul Convention remain blocked, the Commission will take alternative legal measures to achieve the objectives of the Convention.

The EU has a comprehensive set of rules to protect Victims’ Rights and the Commission presented a new Strategy on victims’ rights earlier this year. The EU recognises trafficking in human beings as violence against women and girls. The Commission’s latest progress report confirms that sexual exploitation is the main reason for human trafficking in the EU, with more than 90% of victims being women and girls.

On 23 November 2020, ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November, the European Commission and High Representative/Vice-President, Josep Borrell, issued the following statement:

“Violence against women and girls is a violation of human rights, and has no place in the European Union, or anywhere else in the world.

The scale of the problem remains alarming: one in three women in the European Union have experienced physical and/or sexual violence. Violence against women exists in every country, culture and community. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown once more that for some women not even their home is a safe place.

Figures show that violence against women and children has increased since COVID-19 lockdown measures started. Some Member States have introduced gender-sensitive response measures, such as special alert mechanisms in pharmacies, to protect women and children from all forms of violence. We urge all Member States to develop and implement such measures.

Change is possible, but it requires action, commitment and determination. The EU is committed to continue to work tirelessly with its partners to investigate and punish acts of violence, ensure support for victims, and at the same time to address the root causes and reinforce the legal framework. Through our Spotlight Initiative we are already fighting violence against women and girls, in 26 countries across the globe. This week we will present a new Action Plan on gender equality and women and girl’s empowerment in our external actions. We also call on Member States to ratify the Istanbul Convention – the first legally binding instrument at the international level to combat violence against women and domestic violence.

Our goal is very clear: to end all forms of violence against women and girls. We owe it to all the victims.”

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