What is the EU doing?

The EU protects women and children from gender-based violence through legislation and practical measures on victims' rights.

Victims' rights are reinforced at all stages of the criminal process through an EU directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime.

This directive puts strong emphasis on access to appropriate support, including specialised support for women and children who have been victims of different forms of violence. EU countries are, for example, required to provide appropriate access to shelters for domestic violence victims and emergency support for victims of sexual violence. It also establishes an individual assessment mechanism 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 ensure that measures such as restraining or barring orders issued in one EU country are 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.

The EU also aims to raise awareness of gender-based violence by co-funding campaigns run by national governments, and supports transnational projects run by non-governmental organisations combating violence against women, children and young people.

The EU facilitates finding common solutions among EU countries, by organising exchanges of good practices. The EU also conducts research on gender-based violence.

At the international level, the EU has signed the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, the Istanbul Convention. The next step, currently discussed by the Council, would be its ratification.

Collecting reliable data 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 data is not easily comparable between EU countries.

Accurate data on the problem is key to develop efficient and effective policy and legal responses and to assess trends and progress.

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 European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) has produced an online mapping tool on administrative data sources and other statistics, as well as studies on violence against women and FGM.

Building on the above data collection experiences, Eurostat is working towards an EU survey on gender-based violence, to be carried out by national statistical institutes.

In addition, a Eurobarometer on gender-based violence has been carried out in order to better understand attitudes towards and perceptions of the problem.

2014 FRA EU-wide survey on violence against women 

EIGE studies on violence against women and FGM 

Here are Eurobarometer factsheets published in November 2016, from the Say NO! campaign to stop violence against women, used to help us spread the word