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Seven years of action, 303 projects funded, hundreds of organizations working and thousands of people touched by this work, and still Daphne has never defined ‘violence’.
This is not an oversight. From the outset, it was recognized that violence is not one single thing and that attempting to define it would only limit not only submissions received but, importantly, perception of what constituted violence and what did not. Instead, the Daphne Initiative and Programme sought to explore violence as understood by the people of Europe themselves -- leaders, partners, participants and beneficiaries of Daphne-funded actions – and thus to map out the whole gamut of actions, structures, frameworks and attitudes that are ‘violence’ in Europe.
There is consequently no definition of violence included in the Decision establishing the Daphne Programme 2000-2003. There is, however, a general statement indicating some of the implications of violence and relating it in particular to negative impact on health, since the legal base for the Programme was within the ambit of Public Health. The Decision says:
“Physical, sexual and psychological violence against children, young persons and women constitutes a breach of their right to life, safety, freedom, dignity and physical and emotional integrity and a serious threat to the physical and mental health of the victims of such violence; the effects of such violence are so widespread throughout the Community as to constitute a major health scourge.
It is important to recognize the serious immediate and long-term implications for health, psychological and social development, and for the equal opportunities of those concerned, that violence has for individuals, families and communities and the high social and economic costs to society as a whole.
According to the World Health Organisation’s definition, health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
In short, violence was seen as anything that impeded ‘complete physical, mental and social well-being’ and a breach of the right to ‘life, safety, freedom, dignity and physical and emotional integrity’. This very broad approach to violence allowed Daphne projects to explore in detail the many faces of violence and the specific national, regional and local forms it predominantly takes.
This broad contextual statement has served to allow considerable flexibility in approaches to violence taken by projects throughout the life of the Daphne Programme. Since 2000, projects have focused in on areas of violence that are prevalent across the Member States of the EU (and often beyond) and therefore provide opportunities for transferring results, but that are also identified as being priority areas for action in the project organizations’ own localities/countries. This may well explain the continued support for Daphne from organizations working at community level and represents a significant step in building a bridge between community-level priorities and issues of European importance.