Brexit, migration crisis, Syria, Ukraine, TTIP are the current problems in the European Union Uniunea Europeană, which usually hit the front page in media. Nevertheless, domestic violence is a matter of concern at least as worrying as the others, without fomenting the same interest of the public opinion.

Sami Nevala, Head of Sector Statistics and Surveys, European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) explained for Europunkt, in an interview given to Vladimir Adrian Costea, which are the main dimensions of domestic violence in Europe.

Pentru versiunea în limba română, apasă aici.

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Vladimir Adrian Costea: To begin with, please tell me what are the laws which sanction domestic violence in the European Union. To what extent does the EU law discourage domestic violence?

Sami Nevala: At the EU level, the Victims’ Rights Directive aims to ensure that victims of crime – including victims of domestic violence – receive the protection and support that they need. In addition, victims of violence, including those of domestic violence, can make a request for restraining, protection and barring orders to be recognised and enforced in other EU Member States. This is based on the Regulation on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters and the Directive on the European Protection Order.

Furthermore, all 28 EU Member States have signed, and half have ratified, the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. This is the first legally binding European instrument to address domestic violence comprehensively.

What do statistical data show about violence cases which involve women and children in the EU in the last five years?

FRA’s EU-wide survey on violence against women, which is based on interviews with 42,000 women, shows that one in three women (33 %) have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15, with one in five (22 %) having suffered physical and/or sexual violence at the hands of their partner. One in four women (27 %) have experienced physical violence committed by an adult perpetrator before the age of 15, whilst just over one in ten (12 %) have experienced sexual violence. At the same time, the survey shows that the majority of violent incidents are not reported to the police or to any other service.

Which are the factors that directly influence domestic violence?

Researchers have identified a number of aspects that contribute to domestic violence. Certain individual characteristics can do so, including heavy alcohol use, prior history of abuse, and belief in strict gender roles.[1] The degree to which such individual factors contribute to domestic violence may vary from country to country. Gender equality in society and the circumstances surrounding the relationship also play a role, among other things.

Can you comment on the phenomenon of domestic violence in the EU member states?

FRA’s EU-wide survey shows that domestic violence is a problem for all EU Member States. 13 million women experience physical violence every year in the EU, and 3.7 million are victims of sexual violence. The EU’s Victims’ Rights Directive challenges Member States to further improve the coverage and quality of services in order to assist victims of violence. At the same time, the results of the FRA survey can help inform Member States’ efforts to improve violence prevention, design early intervention measures and devise awareness raising campaigns that inform people about their rights.

What measures do you think that should be taken in order to reduce the number of violence cases involving women and children from the EU?

All EU Member States should ratify the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. The provisions of the Convention cover both adult women and girls (under the age of 18 years).

 

[1] For more examples see: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/riskprotectivefactors.html

 

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