MEPs Call for Gender-Based Violence to be Made a Crime Under EU law
Members of the European Parliament today voted in favour of a legislative initiative demanding targeted legislation and policies to address all forms of violence and discrimination based on gender against women, and girls and against LGBTIQ+ persons, both offline and online.
One third of women in the EU have experienced physical and/or sexual violence. Around 50 women lose their lives to domestic violence every week, and 75% of women within a professional setting have experienced sexual harassment. MEPs are calling for EU law to provide minimum rules for criminal law definitions and sanctions in line with Istanbul Convention standards.
Parliament voted in favour of both online and offline gender-based violence to be treated as a “particularly serious crime with a cross-border dimension”. They have called on the EU Commission to list gender-based violence as a new area of crime under Article 83(1) TFEU, alongside other crimes that need to be combatted on a common basis, such as human, drug, and arms trafficking, computer crime and terrorism.
This would serve as a legal basis for a victim-centred EU Directive using the standards of the Istanbul Convention and other international standards, and would include:
- Prevention measures, including via gender-sensitive and intersectional education programming.
- Support services, protection and reparation measures for victims.
- Measures to end all forms of gender-based violence, including violence against LGBTIQ+ persons.
- Minimum standards for law enforcement.
- Provisions to ensure that incidents of gender-based violence are taken into account when determining child custody and visitation rights.
- Cooperation among member states and the exchange of best practices, information and expertise.
MEPs also denounced femicide as the most extreme form of gender-based violence against women and girls and highlight that denying safe and legal abortion care is also a form of gender-based violence. They point to the many adverse personal, social and economic effects of gender-based violence, and reiterate that the situation has been exacerbated by the COVID pandemic. They also refer to survivors’ lack of trust in law enforcement authorities and the judicial system as a significant factor that contributes to incidents being underreported.
Malin Björk, MEP and member of the Swedish Left Party and The Left group in the EU Parliament said, “Parliament wants to see some bold action to combat gender-based violence – not only in the form of EU-wide legislation, but also through more investments in women’s shelters, in law enforcement and in feminist education. The report also recognises that sexual and reproductive rights such as abortion rights are crucial, and that not only women but also LGBTI people can be victims of gender-based violence, as this type of violence is based on gender inequalities and patriarchal stereotypes.”
During her second State of the EU address in plenary on Wednesday, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told MEPs that, by the end of the year, the Commission will propose a law to combat violence against women that will include prevention, protection and effective prosecution, online and offline.