Advocacy Update: Proposal for EU Directive combating violence against women and domestic violence

On 8 March 2022, the European Commission published a proposal for an EU Directive on combating violence against women (VAW) and domestic violence (DV), aiming to support and protect victims/survivors, guarantee their access to justice, and hold offenders to account. The proposal seeks to create a dedicated EU legal instrument to mobilise all Member States in developing a coordinated approach to safeguarding women and children from gender-based and domestic violence and to harmonise EU law with established international standards. 

The Directive, which was a central demand of women’s organisations and women’s specialist services, is a critical step toward achieving gender equality in Europe and is especially necessary to move this area forward in the Member States that have not yet ratified the Istanbul Convention.

Despite this, as feminist civil society practitioners and direct and indirect respondents to GBV against women and girls, the WAVE Network – representing more than 1600 Women Specialist Services in 46 European countries[1]– considers that the proposed draft Directive falls short of expectations on various regards such as the absence of a rights-based approach, including the lack of recognition of GVB against women and girls as a human rights violation; the reactive quality of the proposed prevention measures, entirely (dis)missing primary prevention; an insufficient understanding of the differences between general victim support services and specialist support services and the role of gender-specific and gender-informed support; the omission of the interconnection between violence against children and violence against women in the context of domestic violence, and the effects of intimate partner violence on children; and last but not least, the lack of recognition of the crucial role feminist civil society organisations play in preventing and addressing VAW and the need for Member States to effectively collaborate with them when implementing the proposed Directive.

The aforementioned points are subsequently presented, as the main demands, the WAVE Network has put forward to the European Parliament to strengthen the legal text of the Directive. Additionally, WAVE submitted a text with detailed suggested amendments -article by article- to the proposal, exemplifying our commitment to ending all forms of VAW and DV, while ensuring that the voice of feminist civil society is heard and actively included in the proposed EU Directive.

Please find the document here.

[1] WAVE members are mainly women’s specialist services such as shelters, centres, helplines, and prevention services, as well as national networks of such services, that directly support women and girls experiencing gender-based violence.