Violence against women and girls and domestic violence ‘are a widespread plague and a manifestation of discrimination against women and vulnerable family members,’ European Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli writes in an article published on the occasion of the one year anniversary of the Commission’s proposal of a directive that would complement the Istanbul Convention. As she points out, a recent Eurostat survey has shown that up to 41% of women have experienced violence.
Commissioner Dalli calls on member states to approve the Commission proposal, but also to understand that ‘legislation on its own will not work.’
‘During the past years, the situation for women and girls worsened with the emergence of new risks, such as the spread of online violence. Progress regarding gender equality is neither inevitable nor irreversible. We simply cannot afford to slip back or lead a half-baked fight opposing violence against women, as we will continue losing,’ the Commissioner notes.
‘Legislation on its own will not work. To not continue to be defeated, we need a revolution,” Dali.
“We must confront misogyny in our criminal justice systems, police forces, education systems, the media and in homes. We must instigate a change of culture, where men and boys are taught to refrain from recurring to violence, as much as women and girls are taught to be independent and walk away from such situations. ‘Boys will be boys’ is unacceptable,’ she adds.
‘Gender equality will only be achieved the day we are all part of its promotion and maintenance,’ the Commissioner points out.
Commissioner Dalli explains that “with the entry into force of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence in 2014, state parties to the convention took an important step towards strengthening domestic legislation and policy against this scourge.”
The EU signed the Istanbul Convention is 2017, but accession was stalled in Council for several years the Commissioner explains, adding that ‘that changed three weeks ago, when the Council finally unblocked it and hastened accession to the Convention’.
‘This achievement is promising for the advancement of gender equality and improved responses to violence against women and domestic violence. The ratification of the Istanbul Convention ensures that the EU upholds its international standards, puts forward its own comprehensive legislation and mainstreams the obligations of the Convention in all EU policy areas’ she stresses.
‘A year ago today, the EU Commission proposed a directive to combat violence against women and domestic violence that complements the Convention and makes our legal framework comprehensive,” she recalls.
“This legislative proposal, she explains, “introduces common minimum standards for all Member States on prevention, protection, support for victims, access to justice, cooperation, and coordination of services.’
‘We proposed the criminalisation of violence against women, including online violence such as non-consensual sharing of intimate images, video and audio files, or threats to do so, and online hate speech. Addressing online violence is a must in times when multiple facets of our lives moved online without the necessary safeguards to keep the space safe for all to participate freely,’ she adds.
‘The proposal also criminalises rape, through a definition built on the notion of consent for the entire duration of the sex act,’ the Commissioner points out.
‘The Istanbul Convention, together with our legislative proposal, once adopted, will establish an obligation on Member States to adopt targeted measures for women and girls to be able to report more easily and in a supportive environment,” she says.
“They will encourage member states to step up their prevention programmes further and improve services, setting minimum benchmarks for all the EU territory’ according to the Commissioner.
‘As we mark International Women’s Day, I think of the resilience of women survivors of violence, be it within the EU, or those who are in warzones such as the case of Ukrainian women. Or those led by totalitarian regimes as in the case for Afghani and Iranian women amongst others,’ the European Commissioner continues.
‘I think of those women who had to build a new life, by leaving their own home for good, find a new job, a new school for their children at great personal sacrifice to escape perpetrators of domestic violence. I think of the injustice and the sense of loss many women experience when they are faced with a Hobson’s choice of whether to endure the violence or leave without knowing where life will take them,’ she says.
‘I think of the numerous support groups led by the invaluable work of civil society organisations and the sorority and empowerment that emerge’ the Commissioner underlines.
‘I count on Member States to stand firmly and united in opposing violence against women and domestic violence and call on them to complete the legislative framework by concluding the ratification of the Istanbul Convention and adopting the EU proposed directive. To be effective we must step up our response to this form of violence,’ she stresses.
Source: Cyprus News Agency