Sexual assault and harassment against women continue to be an extensive problem. The Council of Europe estimated in 2006 that 20-25% of women have experienced physical violence during their adult lives, while a recent FRA survey indicates this figure may be as high as one third of women.
Lack of awareness
Too often, awareness raising campaigns focus on providing victims with information and assistance, rather than targeting the root causes of domestic and gender-based violence, particularly those related to gender stereotyping and cultural norms.
Limited and insufficient protection
In some cases, public authorities lack the necessary capacities to ensure a sufficient level of protection to the victims, especially against emerging forms of violence such as online harassment, stalking and bullying.
Inadequate and disconnected policies
Judges, prosecutors, and health care and education personnel working with domestic and gender-based violence are often untrained or unspecialised in the field. Research in the area is also limited, but points at policy gaps and rigid structures unable to cope with new forms of violence.
Underreporting of violence
Physical or sexual violence are forms of crime that people do not easily report, something partially influenced by social and cultural norms. Distrust of the police, fear of revenge of the perpetrator, or shame or fear of worsening the situation are other common factors.
We aim to prevent domestic and gender-based violence and protect and assist the victims.
Gender-based violence is a violation of fundamental rights that goes beyond the remits of criminal law and touches upon many policy fields from public health to education. Our support in this area therefore covers various initiatives, such as:
- Development of legislation, policies and strategies at the national level to prevent and tackle gender-based violence, including the development of effective protective measures;
- Advocacy, awareness-raising, and capacity building activities on gender-based and sexual harassment (including online harassment);
- Development of effective and integrated response systems that bring together police, justice, health and service agencies;
- Training of professionals in close contact with victims and/or offenders;
- Specialised support services for victims of gender-based violence and affected children, creating – when possible – partnerships between different levels of government and civil society.