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Parliamentary questions
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6 March 2019
Answer given by Ms Jourová on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: E-006189/2018

Online violence and harassment disproportionately affect women and girls(1). While no Union instrument addresses these specific phenomena, several existing instruments and ongoing actions are very relevant in combating online violence and harassment.

Union law includes provisions on the rights of crime victims(2), cybercrime(3), as well as hate crime, racism and xenophobia(4). In addition, certain child protection Directives are relevant to cyberbullying(5). Online violence against women can moreover be addressed under the Istanbul Convention by the 20 EU Member States who have ratified the Convention so far(6). Negotiations on the Union’s accession are underway. Finally, the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime(7) sets out rules on crimes committed via computer networks.

In addition, the Commission undertakes a broad set of activities to close gender gaps in digital skills, including on digital capabilities and confidence. It funds projects tackling gender-based online harassment under the Rights, Equality and Citizenship programme(8), and works with Eurostat and the European Institute for Gender Equality to obtain comparable data. A number of awareness-raising activities have been undertaken, including in social media(9).

Through its Mutual Learning Programme on gender equality, the Commission facilitates the sharing of best practices between the Member States. In 2017, Denmark hosted a seminar on digital sexual abuse. Women’s representation in the media was discussed at a mutual learning seminar in France in 2018. Effectively addressing online violence and harassment of women and girls is of utmost importance and therefore remains high on the agenda of the Commission's actions.

(1)EIGE, ‘Cyber violence against women and girls’, 23 June 2017, https://eige.europa.eu/rdc/eige-publications/cyber-violence-against-women-and-girls. Also ‘Gender equality and youth: the opportunities and risks of digitalisation’, 11 October 2018, https://eige.europa.eu/rdc/eige-publications/gender-equality-and-youth-opportunities-and-risks-digitalisation; ‘Gender equality and digitalisation in the European Union’ 11 October 2018, https://eige.europa.eu/rdc/eige-publications/gender-equality-and-digitalisation-european-union.
(2)Directive 2012/29/EU of 25 October 2012 establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2001/220/JHA, OJ L 315, 14.11.2012, p. 57.
(3)Directive 2013/40/EU of 12 August 2013 on attacks against information systems and replacing Council Framework Decision 2005/222/JHA, OJ L 218, 14.8.2013, p. 8.
(4)Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA of 28 November 2008 on combating certain forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law, OJ L 328, 6.12.2008, p. 55.
(5)Directive 2011/92/EU of 13 December 2011 on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, and replacing Council Framework Decision 2004/68/JHA, OJ L 335, 17.12.2011, p. 1; Directive (EU) 2016/800 of 11 May 2016 on procedural safeguards for children who are suspects or accused persons in criminal proceedings, OJ L 132, 21.5.2016, p. 1.
(6)Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, CETS No.210. Articles 33, 34 and 40.
(7)Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime, CETS No.185.
(9)The Non.No.Nein. Say No Stop Violence Against Women campaign ran throughout 2017-2018: https://ec.europa.eu/justice/saynostopvaw/

Last updated: 6 March 2019Legal notice