03 Jul, 2023

Liberal victories in landmark gender-based violence report

Last week, Renew Europe welcomed the adoption of the European Parliament’s position on the Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence by the Committees on Women's Rights (FEMM) and Home Affairs’ (LIBE). The proposed law contains several measures to effectively criminalise different forms of gender-based violence and strengthen the rights of victims.

Soraya Rodríguez Ramos MEP (Ciudadanos, ES), Renew Europe shadow rapporteur in the FEMM Committee, said:

“Today marks a historic landmark: we have, by a broad majority, in the European Parliament approved the first EU-wide Directive that targets gender-based violence. The EU needs these common standards for prevention, protection of victims, and access to justice, support and prosecution across the 27 Member States to fight against these horrible crimes.”

“The European Parliament will stand united in the negotiations with the European Commission and Council in the defence of women's rights. We will not allow Member States to once again, as they did with the Istanbul Convention, block or try to water down a key legislative proposal for all European women and society.”

During the negotiations, the European Parliament proposed to include several new offences to the six criminal offences already proposed by the European Commission. This includes broadening the definition of sexual assault to cover crimes that do not amount to rape but are nevertheless very serious, such as forced sterilisation, forced marriage and sexual harassment at work.

Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová MEP (Independent, SK), Renew Europe shadow rapporteur in the LIBE Committee, added:

“The new Directive will reflect the provisions of the Istanbul Convention and even go further, encompassing also the online dimension of violence. Unfortunately, more and more active women are facing this form of violence, not only politicians, but also journalists, high-ranking civil servants and human rights activists.”

“The text adopted is very ambitious and we are ready to fight hard to maintain this level of ambition also in the final text, including on the offence of rape, which the Council aims to delete. However, this Directive is only a first step - besides legislation, the fight against gender-based violence requires societal change in the perception and acceptance of violence. Violence against women and domestic violence is still a too common phenomenon, and often trivialised, so there is still a long way ahead of us.”

In this text, Renew Europe welcomed several measures such as the obligation for Member States to guarantee victims of sexual violence access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services, including safe and legal abortion, as well as legal aid and assistance free of charge and in a language the victim can understand.

The Group also pushed to hold Member States responsible for ensuring restraining and protection orders are better enforced by use of electronic monitoring measures, and greater obligations and resources for combating violence, including via staff training and shelters.

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