FRA calls for action to end widespread violence against women throughout the EU

Following the violent attacks that took place on 31 December, FRA calls for action to combat the violence against women that the Agency’s research has shown is prevalent across all ages and walks of life throughout the EU.

“The abuse that took place in Cologne and elsewhere on New Year’s Eve was appalling and a grave abuse of the victims. There is no hierarchy of rights holders: respect must be shown to everyone,” said FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty. “However, FRA research clearly demonstrates that the majority of perpetrators of violence against women are among the family or friends and acquaintances of the victim. The events of last month must not be used as an excuse to incite prejudice against migrants or any other groups.”

FRA’s ground breaking report on violence against women, which was based on a representative survey of 42,000 women throughout the EU, showed that women are at risk of gender-based violence in all areas of life, at home and at work, in public and online. At the same time, the majority of incidents are perpetrated by people known to the victim:

  • 22% of all women has suffered violence at the hands of a partner

Of those who had been physically or sexually abused by someone other than a partner,

  • 30% identified a family member as the perpetrator, 22% a friend or acquaintance, and 22% somebody else known to the victim.
  • A total of 30% said the perpetrator of physical or sexual violence carried out against them was a stranger.

Since the publication of the results, FRA has been active in engaging with EU institutions, national governments, international bodies and non-governmental organisations, as the findings make clear that action is needed by a wide variety of groups, from policy makers through health professionals to internet service providers.

In its analysis of the survey findings, FRA underlines the need for:

  • Campaigns to combat violence against women to be directed at men as well as women, as any solution to violence against women must include men
  • EU Member States to ratify the Council of Europe’s ‘Istanbul Convention’ on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence
  • Police, healthcare professionals, employers and specialist victim support services to be well trained and equipped with the necessary resources and powers to assist victims
  • Internet and social media firms to proactively assist victims of cyberharassment to report abuse
  • Improved and harmonised data collection on violence against women in EU Member States.