Monday 25 November marks the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
In a statement issued to mark the occasion, European Commission Vice President and High Representative Federica Mogherini said: “Violence against women and girls is violence against the whole humankind and should have no place in Europe or elsewhere in the world. But we all know that despite our commitment, we are still far from winning this challenge. Violence against women happens anywhere, there is no safe place, not even at home. On the contrary. Woman are targeted at home as well as in their workplace, in schools and universities, on the street, in displacement and migration; and increasingly online through cyber-violence and hate speech.
“The scale of the problem stays alarming: one in three women in Europe has experienced physical and/or sexual violence. Nearly all victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation within the EU are women and girls. In developing countries, one in every three girls is married before reaching the age of 18. There are at least 200 million women and girls [around the world] who have undergone female genital mutilation, which is still performed in around 30 countries.”
In advance of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the EU has drawn attention to its ongoing efforts to support survivors of sexual and gender-based violence both in and outside the bloc, highlighting:
- The EU Victims’ Rights Directive, shoring up the rights of victims of crime, which includes provision for specialist support services for survivors of violence against women and sexual assaults;
- The Rights, Equality and Citizenship programme, which aims to provide support to women and girls at risk of violence, as well as issuing funding for training, capacity building and violence prevention programmes; and
- The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, also referred to as the Istanbul Convention: the European Commission is currently in the process of completing the EU’s full accession to the convention.
Vice President Mogherini’s statement continued: “It is our responsibility, as the EU and international community, to keep our commitment to preventing, openly rejecting and condemning all acts of violence against women and girls. It is our duty also to support and protect the victims by creating a safe environment for them to report the crimes committed against them. The EU is committed to keep working tirelessly with our partners to strengthen legal frameworks and institutions, supporting development and education, improving services for survivors, addressing the root causes of violence, promoting women’s empowerment.
“But ending violence against women and girls requires a firm commitment not only at institutional level. It requires a broad involvement of international organisations, of NGOs, of the civil society at large; and most of all of men. So our goal stays clear: eliminate violence against women and girls. The EU will stay at the forefront of this international mobilisation to defend the rights of every woman and every girl to live free and safe. We do it for our future and for our present because women are the pillar of just, open, developed and democratic societies, and nothing should deprive them of the freedom to play their role freely and safely.”