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The clock is ticking: “We must end violence against women now”, says PES Women President

In Europe, 7 women die every day from male domestic violence and an average of 33% of women have suffered from men’s violence.

Today, the Party of European Socialists commemorates the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November). PES Women President Zita Gurmai used the occasion to make three strong demands:

          - 2016 must become the ‘European Year for combating Violence Against Women’.

          - The Istanbul Convention needs to be ratified and implemented by the European Union and all its Member States.

          - A comprehensive EU Framework Directive on Combating Violence Against Women has to be developed.

PES Women Zita Gurmai stated: “Violence against women needs to be back on the European political agenda, not as mere words but as swift action. For years, former EU Commissioner Viviane Reding made empty promises, told us to wait year after year while every day seven women were dying from male domestic violence in Europe. We won’t accept more delays or excuses: EU Commissioner for Justice and Gender Equality Vĕra Jourová should not follow the pattern of her predecessor and she should understand that the clock is ticking. Only if we establish a European Year dedicated to combating this issue and we promote strong and clear measures at national and European level we will be able to end violence against women once and for all”.

The second demand of PES Women, the Istanbul Convention, sets out minimum standards on prevention, protection, prosecution and the development of integrated policies targeting violence against women. Member states ratifying the Convention are obligated to protect and support victims of violence against women and domestic violence. So far, only 7 EU countries have ratified the Convention.

PES President Sergei Stanishev underlined that; “violence against women is both cause and consequence of the inequality of our society, a social pandemic that is exacerbated by the economic crisis. This is the reason why we must not see this as an isolated problem that affects only a part of our population, and we must not combat it as such. We must fight inequality in all its forms, locally and globally, from all sides of the political spectrum. As we urged repeatedly before, the European Union must put forward sound and concrete legislation to eradicating violence against women, and I believe that an EU Framework Directive would be a major step in the right direction”.

According to studies, an average of 33% of women has suffered from men’s violence during their lives. However, the annual budgets for prevention programmes in the EU member states are 1,000 less than the overall cost of domestic violence in the European Union, which is around 16 billion euros per year – that means 1 million euros every half hour. 

Belgian MEP Maria Arena, who is the S&D Coordinator for the Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committee, said: "Nothing can justify that nowadays, one woman out of three is victim of psychological and physical violence. It is high time that Europe adopts more voluntary politics on that matter. We want all the Member States and the European Union to ratify the Istanbul Convention, a legislative framework to fight violence against women as requested by the Parvanova report adopted in the beginning of 2014, and awareness raising actions such as a European year to fight violence against women as soon as possible".

Violence against women is one of the most widespread violations of women’s rights in Europe today, and it includes sexual and moral harassment, domestic violence, street harassment, rape, forced marriage, genital mutilation and trafficking, among others.

You can also watch the video in French here.

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