News Item

Show harassment and violence against women a red card!

Whether it happens in football, in the office or on the way home, sexual harassment and violence against women are commonplace in the EU. It is time to show this human-rights abuse a red card. The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) calls on EU countries to effectively tackle harassment and violence against women. At the same time, they should better protect women and provide more support for victims.

From unwanted advances to sexual assault, most women in the EU have experienced some form of sexual harassment and violence. This grave human rights abuse is a daily reality for over half of the EU’s population.

Data from FRA’s violence against women survey show that:

  • two in five young women aged 18-29 (43%) have experienced unwelcome touching, hugging and kissing one year before the survey;
  • over half of all women (55%) in the EU have been sexually harassed since the age of 15;
  • one in three (33%) have experienced physical/sexual violence;
  • for a third of all victims of sexual harassment (32%), the perpetrator was a boss, colleague or customer.

But most women have not reported violence or harassment anywhere. Many thought the police would not do anything about it, they felt ashamed or feared further victimisation.

Harassment and violence can have a devastating impact on women’s lives, ranging from physical injuries to psychological consequences. Worse still, Eurostat data show that hundreds of women are killed every year by their intimate partner.

The current debate shows that EU countries need to do more to tackle harassment and violence against women. All countries should ratify the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. Yet to date, only 21 EU countries have ratified it. Others should follow suit.

Governments should ensure that the police, justice and health sectors have enough resources to work together to prevent violence and support victims.

Campaigns that educate men and confront their behaviour are examples of how to provide preventative support.

The proposed EU directive on combatting violence against women and domestic violence adds further weight to the drive to end such violence.

FRA is currently running a second wave of its violence against women survey, in selected EU countries, together with the European Institute for Gender Equality. Combined with Eurostat data, the survey will show developments in the EU since 2014. Results will be available in 2024.

Quote from FRA Director Michael O’Flaherty:

“Millions of women across Europe experience sexual harassment and violence every single day. It is time to show it a red card! EU countries should use the momentum to challenge stereotypes, question behaviours and put in place lasting changes that put an end to harassment and violence of women.”

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