European & International News

European Parliament approves EU-wide civil law protection for victims

(Brussels, 22 May) The EWL welcomes the adoption by the European Parliament of the EU-wide civil protection order for victims of violence, especially for violence against women. The measures will ensure that protection granted in one European country will be maintained when the person travels to another. These civil law rules complement the European Protection Order, which already provides similar protection under criminal law.

The regulation, to apply directly in all member states, will ensure that civil protection granted in one is maintained when the victim moves or travels to another. It will also simplify the application procedure for protection, by removing all today’s intermediate formalities.

However, a note of caution must be sounded. While this measure is welcome, the diversity in levels of protection available to victims of violence ranges enormously from country to country. These protection measures still do not exist in some EU Member States and the new EU law will support women moving from one country to another. It is a positive step, but it concerns a minority of women. In our soon to be published European Women’s Watch, a genuinely feminist appraisal of the situation of women’s rights in the 27 EU member states and three candidate countries, it is very clear that with regards to violence against women, the range of protection services in each member state varies widely – in terms of shelter places for victims of violence against women for example – Luxembourg has the best record with 3,067 shelter places available per 10, 000 persons, but in Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia and Hungary there are no places available at all. Even in Luxembourg, best out of the member states in this regard, there still aren’t enough places.

The recent European Court of Human Rights judgement in the case of Valiuliene v. Lithuania shows the difficulty women face in proceeding to seek justice when they have been confronted with violence. Our soon to be released EWL Barometer on Rape 2013 points to the difficulties of dealing with such a pervasive and difficult issue when there is no common or standard definition of the offense itself.

The EWL welcomes the measures by the EU taken this week, and very much hope that they will be thoroughly implemented in all countries, allowing women moving to another country to continue to benefit for the protection she was guaranteed. The EWL therefore reiterates its recommendation that the EU should adopt a comprehensive strategy to tackling all forms of violence against women in Europe and call for the EU to sign to the Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

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Loud and United to end violence against women and girls, European Women’s Lobby Conference, 6 December 2017, Brussels.

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