The EU Institutions agreed on the text of the new Directive on Violence against Women but Member States managed to exclude criminalisation of rape based on consent and explicit mention of LBTI women.
The text produced by the European Commission and especially the position of the European Parliament were excellent, proposing a harmonization of EU law in line with the Istanbul Convention. From the information available, the Council’s position and in particular the intervention of Member States such as France and Germany meant the deletion of Article 5 which provided a definition of rape based on consent. During the press conference, the Parliament negotiators expressed their surprise and disappointment at the fact that Member States were uncomfortable opening a conversation on consent. As they mention, a cultural change is urgently needed.
Explicit mentions of LBTI women appear to have also been deleted from the text, creating possible legal loopholes and contradictions with the Istanbul convention. In substance, Member States tried to ensure to themselves the possibility of excluding LBTI women from the implementation of this Directive.
The result of the negotiations is that this Directive will now criminalise forms of cyberviolence, female genital mutilation and forced marriage. It is very important that there is EU legislation on these heinous crimes. However, it is an indication of the strong intersections between racism and misogyny that, while Member States found “uncomfortable” the conversation around consent, they did not flinch in criminalising acts that are perceived as belonging to “other” communities.
It is disappointing that the EU missed this opportunity to protect women, in all their diversity, from some of the most serious forms of gender-based violence. But as the feminists say: the fight goes on. We will work on the implementation, we will work with our members to ensure that LBTI women are not left out. We continue to fight for better prevention, protection and access to justice for all victims and survivors no matter their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics.