Today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. It’s a day when governments, international organisations and NGOs organise activities designed to raise public awareness of the problem of violence against women. The 25th November was selected in order to commemorate the brutal assassination in 1960 of the three Mirabal sisters on the orders of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo. The Mirabal sisters were political activists in the Dominican Republic.
Yesterday, an event was held in Strasbourg called ‘Break the silence on domestic violence’. This was hosted by my Socialist colleague Antigoni Papadopoulou. Among the speakers were Eva-Britt Svensson, who chairs Women’s Rights Committee in the European Parliament, and committee members Edit Bauer MEP and Antonyia Parvanova MEP. Domestic violence is a key issue for the EU, though it is just one of several forms of violence facing women today.
In Europe one in four women is a victim of violence, which includes domestic abuse, rape, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, prostitution, and female genital mutilation. In the UK alone, two women die each week at the hands of a partner or ex-partner. The Council of Europe estimates that the total annual cost of violence against women in Council of Europe Member States could be as high as €34 billion.
For the European Parliament’s Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee, the fight against violence remains a fundamental area of concern. Committee Chairperson, Eva-Britt Svensson, has just finished putting together a draft report outlining a new EU policy framework against violence against women. In her report she argues the need for strong legal protection for victims, and calls on the legal authorities of EU Member States to make the prosecution of violence in close relationships a priority. She also highlights the importance of providing victims with legal assistance, for governments to implement effective criminal investigation procedures, and for states to set up an emergency-based number for victims of violence. Her report also outlines that more research desperately needs to be carried out to determine the extent of gender-based violence in Europe.
I will be blogging more in the coming months on the progress in the Women’s Committee of Eva-Britt Svensson’s report.
One World Action has put together a petition urging the UK Government to make sure the Champion for ending International Violence Against Women has the tools she needs to become a true champion and protect the world’s women from violence. I have signed it and would ask you to support it. You can sign it by clicking here