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European Commission - Fact Sheet

Q&A : International Day for the elimination of Violence against women

Brussels, 24 November 2016

What do Europeans think about violence against women?

According to the Eurobarometer survey on gender-based violence published today, almost all Europeans (96%) think that domestic violence against women is unacceptable.

While there is widespread agreement that domestic violence, sexual harassment and other acts of gender-based violence are unacceptable the survey shows that it is still occurs widely. Three quarters of respondents (74%) say that domestic violence against women is common in their country. One quarter of respondents (24%) say they know of a friend or family member who has been a victim of domestic violence.

Moreover, the survey also reveals the persistence of victim-blaming and alarming attitudes about consent. For example, more than one in five respondents (22%) believe that women often make up or exaggerate claims of abuse or rape and more than one quarter (27%) think sexual intercourse without consent can be justifiable.

(See infographic with main results)

What is the European Commission doing to increase awareness of gender-based violence?

Today, the Commission is launching a year of focused actions to further its commitment to eradicating all forms of violence against women and girls and to reducing gender inequality. It aims to connect all efforts across the European Unionand engage all stakeholders – Member States, relevant professionals, and NGOs – to collectively combat violence against women.

The focused actions involve local, national and EU-level action. €4 million are dedicated to supporting Member States in developing and implementing practical and targeted information, awareness-raising and education activities to help prevent and combat violence against women (for instance, police authorities, ministries wanting to promote a helpline…).

Calls for proposals to support transnational grassroots projects have also been published today providing a total of €6 million. Civil society organisations will be encouraged to submit project proposals that prevent violence against women or support its victims (for instance projects helping women in shelters to get back to work).

Complementary and supportive action at the EU level will include exchanges between Member States on their most successful policies to tackle violence against women or help victims (under the Commission's Mutual Learning Programme) and a social media campaign around the message "Say no! Stop violence against women".

In other areas, funding is also available. Erasmus+ supports projects and partnerships between education institutions aimed at tackling discrimination based on gender. In the field of sport, from 2014 to 2016 the EU invested EUR 1.7 million in projects located in Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom to help promote gender equality. This includes projects tackling gender-based violence in sport, such as the project VOICE (Voices for truth and dignity – combatting sexual violence in European Sport through the voices of those affected).

How are victims of violence protected and supported?

Since November 2015, the Victims' Rights Directive lays out a set of binding rights for victims of crime, as well as clear obligations for EU Member States to guarantee these rights in practice. These rules recognise that victims of gender-based violence and domestic violence are particularly vulnerable. Victims have the right to protection and to access support services according to their needs. (see IP/15/6095 and factsheet).

Thanks to EU rules on the recognition of protection orders, victims of domestic violence also benefit from extra protection when travelling between EU countries. These rules consist of a Directive and a Regulation.

There are also rules on compensation forvictims of crime . According to the Compensation Directive, individuals who are victims of intentional and violent crime in another EU Member State can receive fair compensation from the country where the crime took place.

Earlier this year, the European Commission published an analysis of European court cases related to female genital mutilation to help identify what factors have enabled states to effectively prosecute these cases.

What is done at EU-level to eradicate trafficking?

The large majority of victims of trafficking registered in the EU are women and girls (80%). The EU recognises that trafficking of females is a form of violence against women and has adopted comprehensive legal and policy frameworks to eradicate it. The Anti-trafficking Directive makes provisions for protecting victims and for preventing more people from becoming victims. The EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012-2016 complements this legislation with a series of actions, including actions which focus on the gender dimension of human trafficking. As part of this strategy, the Commission published the Study on the Gender Dimension of Trafficking in Human Beingsin March 2016. Also in 2016, the Commission issued the First Report on Progress Made in the Fight Against Trafficking in Human Beings, which included findings about women and girls.

What data is collected to better understand the phenomenon?

The EU has gathered accurate and comparable data on gender-based violence to ensure effective policy making.

The first EU-wide survey on women's experiences of various forms of violence, carried out by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), shows that violence against women in Europe is still widespread. The survey found that one in three women has been a victim of physical and/or sexual violence during her lifetime, and that 55% of women have experienced sexual harassment.

Eurostat has also started collecting data about the number of reported incidents of intentional homicide, rape and sexual assault, for both men and women. The data shows that in many Member States over half of all female murder victims are killed by an intimate partner, relative or family member.

Following the Communication towards the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation in 2013, the European Institute for Gender Equality has developed methods and a set of indicators for estimating the risk of female genital mutilation. The Daphne III Programme is currently funding a study being led by Ghent University, which will aim to develop a common definition and methodology on the prevalence of female genital mutilation.

The results of a Eurobarometer survey released today will add to the information provided by population-based prevalence surveys and national administrative data.

The European Commission also published today a study on "Gender-based violence in Sport". The study provides a mapping and overview of the legal and policy frameworks in Member States. It identifies several best practices in combatting gender-based violence in sport and makes recommendations to the Commission, Member States and sport organisations for future actions, including a recommendation that sport staff with a history of offences should be prevented from taking up any roles in sporting environments in the European Union.

What is the Istanbul Convention?

The Council of Europe's Istanbul Convention offers a human-rights-based approach to fighting violence against women. In March 2016 the Commission made a proposal for the EU to become party to the Convention (see IP/16/549 and factsheet). This would strengthen its accountability for the promotion of fundamental rights within and beyond EU borders. The proposals made by the Commission are currently being discussed in Council. The European Parliament will then need to consent to the EU's accession.

How does the EU address gender-based violence in its asylum policy?

In the context of the ongoing reform of the Common European Asylum System the European Commission has proposed to strengthen the provisions for vulnerable applicants. This involves more ambitious provisions for assessing vulnerability and an obligation for Member States to take the specific needs of women applicants into account who have experienced gender-based harm. The strengthened provisions also aim to ensure that asylum applicants have access to medical care, legal support, appropriate trauma counselling and psycho-social care. The proposal for the new Asylum Procedure Regulation advocates gender-sensitive international protection. Women for instance should be given an effective opportunity to have a private interview, separate from their spouse or other family members. Where possible they should be assisted by female interpreters and female medical practitioners, especially if they may have been a victim of gender-based violence.

The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) has furthermore developedseveral tools in order to ensure an effective implementation of legalprovisionsforgender-relatedissues.

What is the EU doing to help promote gender equality outside the European Union?
The European Union has women's human rights and gender equality at the core of all its external policies. It makes every possible effort to strengthen the voice and empower women and girls, and to assert their rights – political, social, economic - around the world.

In this regard the 2016-2020 EU Gender Action Plan in external relations serves as the main guiding framework for EU actions and cooperation with partner countries, international and civil society organisations, and the private sector. This EU commitment is complemented by EUR 100 million specifically earmarked for gender-related actions by 2020 and by other gender mainstreaming measures throughout the EU external instruments.

As gender equality cuts across the whole 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and is vital for achieving all SDGs, the EU will contribute to this key driver of development by also focusing on concrete actions that counter and prevent any form of violence against women and girls, by shifting the institutional culture of the EU and it Member States to deliver on commitments and by supporting partner countries to create a more enabling environment for the fulfilment of all girls' and women's rights.

We will be particularly investing in women and girls whose rights are violated across the world as they are excluded from education, from the labour market, and from political life while facing unequal rules and laws on inheritance, citizenship or land-ownership. In 2017 we will provide specific support to victims of violence in the most remote and fragile areas.

Conflicts and natural disasters affect women, girls, boys and men differently. A key example are the EU-funded humanitarian aid projects across the world, which are adapted to the different needs of boys, men, women and girls. All projects take into account gender to ensure maximum impact so aid reaches those that need it most. In order to ensure that humanitarian responses address the specific needs of women and girls taking their perspective into account is promoted in all EU funded humanitarian projects.

The European Commission's approach to gender and gender-based violence in humanitarian aid is outlined in the policy document Gender in Humanitarian Aid – Different Needs, Adapted Assistance. This approach is further developed in the document Humanitarian Protection: Improving Protection Outcomes to Reduce Risks for People in Humanitarian Crises. The EU also introduced a Gender-Age Marker tool to assess how much EU-funded humanitarian actions take gender and age into consideration.

The EU responds to gender-based violence in humanitarian crises through targeted actions and capacity building. In 2016 the EU has supported 62 humanitarian projects related to gender-based violence so far. These projects are financed with a total of almost €24.5 million and will reach 3.4 million women, girls, boys and men around the world. Since 2014 the EU has spent more than €1 million per year on projects that contribute to building the capacity of the humanitarian system to deal with gender and gender-based violence. The EU is an active member of the global initiative Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence.

The EU also supports the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action. The EU is also at the forefront of the implementation of UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and its follow up resolutions.

It is essential for the EU to also get non-governmental actors involved. This will help to address the root causes of gender inequality: a lack of access to financial and material resources, unequal power relations, discrimination, stigma, gender stereotypes and violence.

For More Information


EU actions to eliminate Female Genital Mutilation

Further information regarding upcoming calls for proposals can be found here.

Information regarding previously funded projects can be found here.



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