Violence against women and girls is a pervasive human rights violation – Sarajevo Times


Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, November 25, the European Commission and the High Representative / Vice-President, Josep Borrell, issued the following statement:

“Violence against women and girls is a pervasive human rights violation.

In Europe, one in three women aged 15 or over reported having experienced some form of physical and / or sexual violence. One in 10 women said they had been the victim of some form of sexual violence and one in 20 had been raped. Just over one in five women have experienced physical and / or sexual violence from a current or previous partner, while 43% of women have experienced some form of psychologically abusive and / or controlling behavior in a relationship .

Domestic violence was already a “phantom pandemic” before COVID-19 broke out. During the COVID-19 pandemic, cases of domestic violence have increased, drawing everyone’s attention to the fact that for many women and girls, the home is not a safe place. The scale of the problem remains alarming. A vision for a Europe where women and men, girls and boys, in all their diversity, are free from violence and stereotypes and have the opportunity to thrive and lead – this is the basis of the EU Strategy for Gender Equality 2020-2025.

Gender-based cyberviolence is spreading rapidly. A relatively new phenomenon is experienced by all women, although women visible in public life, such as journalists and politicians, disproportionately experience gender-based cyberviolence, which can affect democratic decision-making: they dare not express political opinions for fear of online targeting.

During the year, we have also witnessed disturbing developments threatening women and girls around the world. In March, the Turkish government decided to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, prompting a resolute reaction from women in Turkey and elsewhere who took to the streets in protest. Since June, events in Afghanistan have threatened the rights of Afghan women and girls, many of whom remain at risk because of their work, education, activities and opinions. The use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and the associated impunity in Tigray, Ethiopia and eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continue unendingly. These are just a few examples. We condemn and call for an end to violence against women everywhere, including in conflict situations *.

Progress is possible and we must continue to work tirelessly together to do more. The Commission will propose to expand the list of ‘EU crimes’ to cover hate speech and hate crimes. This will allow the EU to criminalize hate speech and gender-based hate crimes. We will also propose new legislation to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence. It will propose concrete measures to prevent such violence, including when it is perpetrated online, to protect and support victims, improve their access to justice and ensure better coordination between the competent authorities.

We will continue the EU-UN Spotlight initiative which has helped 650,000 women and girls around the world and protected or prevented violence against them, sensitized 880,000 men and boys to positive masculinity, to non-violent conflict resolution and parenting, and has contributed to the signing or strengthening of 84 national laws and policies to combat gender-based violence.

We are stepping up our action and calling on others to continue their engagement and collaboration.

Let’s make Europe and the rest of the world safe for all women and girls.


Violence against women and girls is a widespread and devastating human rights violation that takes place all over the world. This type of violence remains largely unreported due to the stigma and shame surrounding it, and the lack of trust in the authorities. As a result, many authors remain free and unpunished.

The Commission will also present an initiative calling on the Council to take a decision to include hate crimes and hate speech in the list of “EU crimes” in Art. 83 TFEU. This would then allow the Commission to propose legislation also addressing specific forms of serious violence against women which can be defined as misogynistic hate speech or hate crimes.

The Commission is continuing its work on the EU’s accession to the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, the Istanbul Convention. The Istanbul Convention is a comprehensive and powerful legal instrument to prevent and combat gender-based and domestic violence and to protect victims. As part of the A New Push for European Democracy initiative, the Commission will launch a new legislative proposal to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence. The initiative will have the same objective as the Istanbul Convention; ensure that EU Member States have effective measures to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence.

At the international level, the Action Plan on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women in External Relations 2020 – 2025 (GAP III) provides an ambitious external policy framework to achieve progress on gender equality and women’s empowerment, in line with the EU strategy on gender equality. Ensuring the absence of all forms of gender-based violence is central to this. The EU will continue its efforts to tackle sexual and gender-based violence around the world, including in situations of fragility, conflict and emergency, for example through the Flagship initiative, a joint EU-UN global program to end all forms of violence against women and girls.


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