Violence has touched the lives of almost half of all women in Europe. Not only does this damage people and their families, but it also has a significant economic cost of €228 billion a year in Europe. Ahead of International Women’s Day on 8 March, the European Parliament has called for a common EU strategy to tackle violence against women. We discussed it with report author Antonyia Parvanova, a Bulgarian member of the ALDE group.
How wide-spread is violence against women in Europe?
Several studies show that there is a serious problem with violence against women in Europe. A study by the EU's Fundamental Rights Agency shows that between 20-25% of women have experienced physical violence, about 10% sexual violence, while seven women die due to violence every day and almost half of women in Europe have at one point in their lives experienced a form of violence.
Violence against women affects more than just their family life. What are the consequences?
Violence against women is an obstacle to women’s full participation in economic, social, political and cultural life and has a serious financial impact as well, with the total economic cost estimated to be €228 billion a year in the EU.
There is a lack of a comprehensive EU strategy. What needs to be changed?
We have been waiting for a strategy and for the European Commission to encourage member states to ratify the Council of Europe convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, which has not happened. So the women's rights committee is now calling on the Commission to come up with a strategy and a legislative act on preventing violence, as well as a comprehensive strategy and legislative act on collecting comparable data. It is the strongest step that the Parliament could legally take in this direction.
We are also calling to make 2016 the EU Year to End Violence against Women.