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Protecting the victims of gender-based violence

The EU recognises that women and children who have been victims of violence are often particularly vulnerable and in a fragile and exposed situation. To support and protect them and ensure that they get access to justice, the EU has put in place a package of measures that aims at strengthening the rights of victims of crime so that any victim can rely on the same basic level of rights – whatever their nationality and wherever in the EU the crime takes place.

What is the EU doing?

Thanks to an EU Directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, victims' rights will be reinforced at all stages of the criminal process:  from reporting a crime, throughout the police investigation and trial and until an offender is released from prison.

This directive will have a positive impact – especially on women suffering from various forms of violent and sexual crime because:

  • it puts strong emphasis on access to appropriate support, including specialised support for women and children who have been victims of different forms of violence. Member States are, for example, required to provide appropriate access to shelters for domestic violence victims and emergency support for victims of sexual violence; and
  • it establishes a mechanism of  an individual assessment to determine if special measures are required to protect particularly vulnerable victims during criminal proceedings.

The EU has also set up instruments for the mutual recognition of protection measures. These will ensure that measures such as restraining or barring orders issued in one Member State will be recognised in another with a minimum of bureaucracy. Thus victims can move across borders without fear of losing legal protection. These instruments are important tools to prevent violence against women.

Find out more: Rights of the victim