The Renew Europe group welcomes that the European Parliament's Committees on Women's Rights (FEMM) and Home Affairs (LIBE) today adopted the Parliament's position on the directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence, containing several measures to effectively criminalise different forms of gender-based violence and strengthen the rights of victims.
Soraya Rodríguez Ramos (Ciudadanos, Spain), the Renew Europe group's shadow rapporteur in the FEMM Committee, commented:
“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.”
Adding to the six criminal offences already proposed by the European Commission, the European Parliament proposed to include several new offences, such as sexual assault - to cover crimes that do not amount to rape but are nevertheless very serious, forced sterilisation, forced marriage and sexual harassment at work.
Lucia Ďuriš Nicholsonová (Independent, Slovakia), the Renew Europe group's shadow rapporteur in the LIBE Committee, emphasised:
“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 today 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 being trivialised, so there is still a long way ahead of us.”
The adopted position reflects several victories for the Renew Europe group, such as the obligation for Member States to guarantee access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services, including safe and legal abortion, for victims of sexual violence, as well as legal aid and assistance free of charge and in a language the victim can understand. Our political group also managed to include the responsibility of Member States to make sure that restraining and protection orders are better enforced by the use of electronic monitoring measures, and stronger obligations to ensure sufficient resources for combating violence, for instance via trained staff and shelters.