Say no to violence against women

Recent allegations from around the world have once again underlined what many women have long known: violence, harassment and hatred towards women are features of their daily lives. As 25 November marks International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) lends its voice to the EU’s campaign #SayNoStopVAW and the global #metoo campaign to help put an end to the widespread violence that affects millions of women.

In 2014, a FRA survey revealed widespread abuse of women across the EU. This survey, the largest and most comprehensive of its kind to date, suggests that over 62 million women have suffered from physical and/or sexual violence in the EU. Such violence affects women in all walks of life, at all levels, online and off from the home to the workplace to the street.

The Agency’s recent paper outlined fresh evidence of the different forms of prejudice, contempt or hatred towards women and girls in EU Member States. It was compiled for the European Commission’s 2017 Annual Colloquium on Fundamental Rights, which focused this year on women's rights. The paper adds to the weight of evidence from numerous other surveys that all paint a disturbing picture of every day violence everywhere. It also shows how violence severely limits women’s ability to participate on an equal footing in society and enjoy their rights.

While the EU and its Member States remain committed to combating violence against women, violence cannot be eradicated without investing in countering structural discrimination, promoting gender equality and changing societal attitudes and ingrained stereotypes towards women and girls. FRA’s recent paper and survey report suggests possible ways forward to promote gender equality and to fight against all forms of such violence.

It suggests, for example, promoting gender equality through education to help change attitudes as well as empowering equality bodies to also tackle violence against women.

However, what is needed is the EU and Member States to take decisive action now. Only then can we begin to make gender equality a reality and enable women and girls live in a world free of gender-based violence. Saying no to stop violence against women is already a good step forward to challenge attitudes in the society that allow this violence to occur.