Fundamental change needed to help combat violence against women

This year International Women’s Day focuses on inspiring change. A recent report from the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) points to the need for wide-ranging change across many different areas to help combat high levels of violence against women across the European Union.

“If we want to protect women from the high levels of abuse that seems to be common across Europe, we need change,” says FRA Director Morten Kjaerum on the eve of International Women’s Day. “Change in attitudes towards women, change in the scope of laws and policies, and change in how employers, healthcare professionals, internet providers and the police tackle violence against women.”

The findings from FRA’s survey point to high levels of abuse: For example, one in three women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence as an adult and as a child, and one in two women have been sexually harassed.

Such findings demonstrate that violence against women is an extensive human rights abuse that must be combated with all the means at our disposal. A wide variety of groups need to act to bring about the much needed change to effectively protect and support women victims from all forms of violence. This includes employers, health professionals, the police and internet service providers. Preventative and awareness raising measures targeting both women and men are also needed.

The findings are presented in a report, entitled Violence against women: an EU-wide survey. The findings are drawn from interviews with 42,000 women across all 28 EU Member States, making it the world’s largest survey on violence against women. Women were asked about their experiences of physical, sexual and psychological violence, childhood victimisation, sexual harassment and stalking, including experiences of abuse on the internet and other new media platforms.