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Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. As Ban Ki-moon puts it, « Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation, public health pandemic and serious obstacle to sustainable development. it imposes large-scale costs on families, communities and economies. The world cannot afford to pay this price. ». To take action against this phenomenon, there is a need to enhance funding available for research and for initiatives that help preventing and ending violence against women. From today until December 10, there will be 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based violence.

At the European level, the treaty that tackles gender-based violence is the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. According to the Convention, its members have to improve protection of victims and condemn aggressors. It also aims at criminalising violence against women (whether it is physical or psychological), reinforcing the power of the police towards aggressors and creating shelters for victims. Up to this day, 22 countries have ratified the Convention and 21 have signed it without ratifying it.

In March, the Commission asked the European Union and its Member States to join the Convention as it is binding and it could support European policies addressing violence against women. Talks in the Council lag behind but the European Parliament has adopted yesterday a resolution to urge Member States and the European Union to ratify the Convention.

Just as in the 2014 resolution, MEPs asks the Council to recognise violence against women as a matter of criminality that could be prosecuted according to article 83 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.

According to the latest survey of the European Agency for Fundamental Rights:

– 20% of women between 18 and 29 have experienced online sexual harassment

– one in five women has been tracked

– one in twenty women has been raped

– more that one in ten women has suffered from sexual violence

A study from the Eurobarometer shows that 27% of the respondents think that sexual intercourse without consent can in certain circumstances be justified!

As a sign of support for the United Nations’ campaign, the Commission’s buildings are illuminated in orange today – a colour chosen to symbolize a brighter future without violence. In France, a group of women published a toolkit destined to journalist to raise awareness on the fact that the way they relate stories of gender-based violence can have negative impacts on victims and perpetuate stereotypes.

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