European Women's Lobby's Report on Violence against Women in Europe
Tuesday, June 5, 2007 4:53 PM

A new report from the European Women’s Lobby outlines the different forms of violence against women and how the European Union countries are responding to these issues. Despite the continuous call from NGOs as well as the European Parliament, no comprehensive policy on violence against women exists within the EU. This lack of legislation has led to non-uniform and incomplete national policies from EU member states.

Very few countries have national action plans equipped to combat all forms of violence against women, and existing ones are often lacking sufficient funds, timetables, or coordinated involvement from multiple ministries or governmental bodies. It is extremely important for governments to engage in a consultation process with NGOs that work in the field when drafting new national action plans or legislation. As most shelters for battered women, hotlines for abused women, and awareness raising campaigns are managed by the NGOs, this lack of consultation may greatly hinder the effectiveness of these national action plans. However, few countries have chosen to take advantage of these available resources.

What little legislation exists in the EU member states does not adequately address all issues of violence against women. Legislation combating domestic violence, psychological violence, rape, harmful cultural/religious practices, trafficking, prostitution, pornography, and sexual harassment among all the EU member states was found to be negative and inadequate overall. Common obstacles included women’s lack of knowledge of their legal rights, lack of clear or adequate definitions in the legislation (including definitions of psychological violence, marital rape, and sexual harassment), as well as punishment directed at the victim rather than towards the exploiter (prostitution, trafficking, and pornography).

Other problems hindering the fight to combat violence against women include the lack of sufficient services for victims of violence often due to a lack of funding, as well as insufficient coverage in the media. Domestic violence and rape very often go unreported due to the social stigma that comes with reporting such crimes. The report claims that it is therefore necessary to raise awareness and provide education concerning violence against women to encourage victims to come forward.

Complied from: “Reality Check: When Women’s NGOs Map Policies and Legislation on Violence against Women in Europe,” European Women’s Lobby, February 2007.