The undersigned organisations welcome the European Commission’s proposal for a Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence (COM (2022) 105 final, 8 March 2022) (hereinafter “the Directive”), as it provides much needed comprehensive solutions, incorporating prevention, protection, and prosecution for a range of criminal offences constituting violence against women and domestic violence.
We believe this Directive can make a significant difference in the ongoing fight against gender-based violence in the EU. It is critical that the negotiating institutions ensure that the Directive in no way undermines the rights of women and girls or regresses on hard-won women’s rights and gains in ensuring gender equality. Therefore, the Directive should reaffirm and build on the international standards already set out in the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (‘the Istanbul Convention’), as well as other binding international human rights law. The EU recently ratified the Istanbul Convention, although with a very limited scope, and it will become binding for the EU as of 1 October 2023.
In this crucial phase of the interinstitutional negotiations, we call on the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council of the EU to find meaningful compromises, to ensure that the Directive truly serves the needs of all survivors/victims1 of violence against women and girls2 and domestic violence, advances the achievement of gender equality and the effective protection of victims’ rights in the European Union, and recognizes the essential role of civil society organisations in ensuring prevention, protection, and direct support services for victims.
Our organisations work on a diverse range of women’s rights issues. In the drafting of this document, we have been led by the expertise of women’s rights organisations and women human rights defenders from communities most impacted by the specific forms of violence described in each section. Our commitment to the text below represents our coming together as a collective with shared values, even though not every organisation has its own policy or programme of work dedicated to each issue. We centre and affirm the expertise of women human rights defenders in all their diversity, and encourage the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council of the EU to do the same.