Survey on gender-based violence against women

Both the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament, in addition to several international organisations such as the Council of Europe, have highlighted the need for comparable data on violence against women as a basis for developing evidence-based policy responses.

In 2010 the FRA initiated a pilot/pre-test study in six EU Member States to test the draft survey questionnaire in a combination of qualitative and quantitative interviews. Work on the full-scale survey started in 2011, and the data collection was completed in September 2012. During the project development the FRA consulted a group consisting of various stakeholder groups concerning the issues to be covered in the survey, and a group of violence against women survey research specialists on the details of technical implementation.

The survey interviewed in total over 40,000 women (approximately 1,500 per country), aged 18-74 years, in the 27 European Union Member States and Croatia. The interviews were managed by Ipsos MORI – in cooperation with the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control, affiliated with the United Nations (HEUNI), and the United Nations Inter-regional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) – based on an open call for tender and following FRA’s project specifications. In each country a representative sample of respondents was drawn either from existing population registers or using the random route method. In both cases only one respondent per household was interviewed, and the interviews were conducted in a private setting with no other people present except the interviewer and the respondent.

The respondents were asked about their experiences of physical, sexual and psychological violence – including sexual harassment and stalking – by partners and other persons. With regard to incidents of violence, the survey asked a series of questions concerning the nature of violence, consequences, and ways in which the victims have coped with the incidents. While most experiences of violence that were asked about in the survey referred to the time since the respondent was 16 years of age, the survey also included a section on childhood incidents which may have taken place before the age of 16. Socio-demographic information was collected to enable a detailed analysis of the survey results. The same standardised questionnaire was used in all survey countries to ensure the comparability of the results.

A two-day training programme was developed to familiarise the interviewers – selected from among a pool of experienced survey interviewers in each country – with the topic of the survey, how to build a good rapport with respondents, and situations which may arise during fieldwork. FRA attended selected interviewer training sessions to monitor the delivery of the training.

All survey interviews were carried out face-to-face, and only female interviewers were used given the sensitive nature of the survey. At the end of the interview the respondents were offered the possibility to provide additional information in the form of a short self-completion questionnaire. Respondents were also provided with information about how to seek support, which was done in such a way as to ensure that they were not put at further risk.

The results of the survey were presented on 5 March 2014 at the high-level conference “Violence against women across the EU: Abuse at home, work, in public and online” in Brussels and are available on this website.