At a meeting of the EU’s Justice and Home Affairs council, EU ministers have agreed their position on a proposed directive to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence, according to a statement on June 9 by the Council of the EU.
The new law would criminalise across the EU offences including female genital mutilation, cyber stalking, cyber harassment, non-consensual sharing of intimate images and cyber incitement to hatred or violence.
Gunnar Strömmer, Minister of Justice of Sweden – the country currently presiding over the Council of the EU, said: “Violence against women and girls is a stain on our society.
“This draft legislation is a strong confirmation of EU action to guarantee that offences such as female genital mutilation, cyber stalking and cyber harrassment will not go unpunished, and that victims of violence against women and domestic violence will get the necessary support and protection,” he said.
The proposed directive sets minimum rules for the rights of victims and victims’ protection and support.
When a victim of sexual violence or domestic violence for example first makes contact with an authority the risk posed by the offender or suspect must be assessed. On this basis, authorities would need to provide adequate protection measures. These could include emergency barring and restraining or protection orders.
EU countries must also ensure that victims can report acts of violence against women or domestic violence through accessible and easy-to-use channels, which can include the possibility of online reporting and to submit evidence online.
Member states must also ensure that evidence relating to the victim’s past sexual conduct should only be permitted in criminal proceedings when it is relevant and necessary.
Victims would have the right to claim full compensation from offenders for damages. They should also be able to obtain compensation in the course of criminal proceedings when this is appropriate.
Member states will also be required to provide dedicated services, such as rape crisis centres, to support the victims of sexual violence. They must make a national telephone helpline available that victims of violence can reach 24/7, free of charge.
The statement, citing data from 2014, said that in the EU, one in three women has experienced physical or sexual violence, mostly perpetrated by intimate partners. In 2020, it was estimated that one in two young women experienced gender-based cyber violence.
On the basis of the general approach reached on June 9, the Council of the EU can start negotiations with the European Parliament once it has agreed its own position.
(Photo: Fabrizio Turco)
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