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Zero tolerance of violence against women

  • One in three women in the EU has experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15; 
  • 75 % of women in a professional job or in top management have experienced sexual harassment;
  • One in ten women has experienced sexual harassment or stalking through new technologies.

Gender-based violence is a brutal form of discrimination and a violation of the victim’s fundamental rights. It is both a cause and a consequence of inequalities between women and men.

Gender-based violence happens everywhere, in every society and EU country, regardless of social background, whether at home, at work, at school, in the street or online.

Not only does it affect women's health and well-being, but it can hamper women's access to employment, thereby negatively affecting their financial independence and the economy in general. 

What is gender-based violence?

It can be defined as violence directed against a person because of that person's gender (including gender identity/expression) or as violence that affects persons of a particular gender disproportionately. Women and girls, of all ages and backgrounds, are most affected by gender-based violence. It can be physical, sexual and/or psychological, and includes:

  • Violence in close relationships;
  • Sexual violence (including rape, sexual assault and harassment or stalking);
  • Slavery;
  • Harmful practices, such as forced marriages, female genital mutilation (FGM) and so-called ‘honour’ crimes;
  • Cyberviolence and harassment using new technologies. 

What is the EU doing?

Getting more and better evidence on gender-based violence

Violence is still regrettably under-reported: only about a third of women who are physically or sexually abused by their partners contact the authorities. In addition, complaints are not systematically recorded, and the collection of administrative data is not comparable between EU countries.

The European Commission works together with EU countries and other EU bodies to get more and better information, which will strengthen our policy responses to gender-based violence.

In March 2014, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) published the results of the first ever EU-wide survey on women's experiences of violence.

In 2015, Eurostat collected administrative data recorded by national authorities (e.g. police, judiciary) with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The data collected included, where possible, information on intentional homicide, rape and other sexual assault, and details of the victim's sex. For intentional homicide, data was also collected on the victim's relationship to the perpetrator, where available. This showed that in many EU countries, over half of all murdered women are killed by an intimate partner, relative or family member.

The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) has produced an online mapping tool on administrative data sources and related statistical products, as well as a number of studies on violence against women and FGM.