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EU to finally have its own tool to combat violence against women, including cyber violence


23 Apr 2024


Justice & Home Affairs

After a decade of calls and insistent pressure and campaigning done by the S&D Group, the EU will finally have the first-ever law to combat violence against women – a solid first step to eradicate the pandemic of gender-based violence. 

This directive, that will be put to the final vote tomorrow, means that the EU, for the first time, will have a legal instrument to combat gender-based cyber violence, like cyberstalking and cyber-flashing. It will also make female genital mutilation (FGM) a criminal offence, punishable across the EU, and forced marriage will be criminalised at EU level too. Furthermore, the new law details the rights for victims of all forms of violence against women or domestic violence, and provides for their protection. Children who have witnessed domestic violence will also be considered victims of domestic violence.

It is very regrettable that the Council rejected our demand to include the crime of non-consensual sex as rape. However, as S&Ds, we are determined to continue this fight until women everywhere in the EU are protected from all forms of gender-based violence. 

Evin Incir, S&D MEP and the European Parliament’s co-rapporteur on gender-based violence in the committee on civil liberties, said: 

"We are taking a big step forward to better protect women and girls from violence, whether at home, at work, offline or online. Gender-based violence, sexual violence, and domestic violence is a global pandemic and a serious violation of human rights, also in Europe. It’s unacceptable that some EU governments continue to refuse to ratify the Istanbul Convention, or are even working actively against women’s rights and gender equality.

"That is why it is so important that the EU will finally have its own legal instrument to support and protect women in the EU. Obviously, we regret that the alliance formed by two liberals – President of France, Emmanuel Macron and German Justice Minister, Marco Buschmann – with the illiberal Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, has prevented the progress on consent-based rape legislation.

"However, we did not have the privilege to break off negotiations and risk waiting another ten years for a better directive. The new law does provide concrete progress for victims of gender-based violence, and we can only aim higher from now on – and we will!"

Maria Noichl, S&D MEP and spokeswoman on women’s rights, added

"Millions of women suffer in Europe every single day, experiencing physical, online, or sexual violence, often by partners or ex-partners. We can only support and protect them with strong legal instruments and a zero tolerance policy.

"We can be proud that it was after years of our calls that the European Commission proposed the first ever European law aimed at protecting women from violence. It includes tough rules on cyber violence, and strong provisions on prevention and support services for victims¬ of all forms of gender-based violence. 

"However, the fight is not over. The S&Ds will continue to be at the forefront of the battle for a Europe where all women can live free from fear.  We call for identifying gender-based violence as an EU crime, and urge all member states to get rid of outdated laws regarding rape."


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