EU law on gender violence must cover all forms of discrimination, say MEPs

Gender-based violence should be added to the list of Eurocrimes and the European Commission must table a proposal for an EU-wide directive on gender-based violence, stated MEPs on Thursday (16 September). [Shutterstock]

Gender-based violence should be added to the list of crimes to be tackled across borders and the European Commission must table a proposal for an EU-wide directive on gender-based violence, EU lawmakers stated on Thursday (16 September).

In her State of the Union speech to the European Parliament on Wednesday, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told MEPs that the EU executive would propose a law to combat violence against women that will include prevention, protection and effective prosecution, both online and offline, by the end of the year.

In response, EU lawmakers, in their own report, backed by a 427 to 119 majority, stated that the Commission should list gender-based violence as a new area of crime, alongside other crimes that need to be combatted on a common basis, such as human, drug, and arms trafficking, computer crime and terrorism.

The new legislation should also cover all forms of violence and discrimination based on gender, against women and girls, and LGBTIQ+ people, said MEPs.

It should also include the provision of support services, protection and reparation measures for victims, minimum standards for law enforcement, and provisions to ensure that incidents of gender-based violence are taken into account when determining child custody and visitation rights, the Parliament stated.

Diana Riba i Giner, the Green MEP who piloted the report through Parliament described the vote as “a historic moment in the fight against gender-based violence in the EU.”

She added that MEPs had “taken the first step towards having the tools to ensure common legal definitions and standards to prevent and combat all forms of gender-based violence, including violence against LGBTIQ people.”

has exacerbated the situation. Government agencies, women’s rights groups and civil society partners across Europe have also reported an increased demand for emergency shelters.

The EU executive says that one in three women in the European Union has experienced physical and/or sexual violence, one in two have suffered sexual harassment, while one in twenty has been a victim of rape.

Few EU countries have collected official statistics on violence against women during the Covid–19 pandemic. However, in those that did, including France and Lithuania, there have been significant increases in domestic violence, particularly during the national lockdowns, according to the EU’s European Institute for Gender Equality.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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