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Background Information
Turning the spotlight on violence against women

Brussels, 2 March 2005

Turning the spotlight on violence against women

Every day millions of women around the world are victims of abuse of all kinds: brutality within a relationship or the family, intimidation at work, mental cruelty, sexual abuse or forced prostitution. To mark International Women's Day (Tuesday 8 March), the European Parliament is holding a range of events next week in Strasbourg to highlight the problem of violence against women. There will be a plenary debate by MEPs, a special debate outside the plenary and a showing of a Spanish film that deals with this subject.

Beijing – 10 years on

The plenary debate will be based on an oral question to the Council and the Commission on the follow up to the Fourth World Conference on Women by the UN, known as "Beijing + 10 Platform for Action", which was signed by 189 countries ten years ago. In 1995 this world-wide conference established key twelve areas which governments should focus on to achieve gender equality, such as poverty, education, sharing of power and basic human rights. One important priority of "Beijing + 10" is to prevent violence against women.

There will be other events outside the plenary session. Tuesday afternoon sees an open debate on violence against women, with journalists and a range of prominent guests (see Annex 1 for programme). Shortly after this debate there will be a showing of the Spanish film "Take my eyes" (Te doy mis ojos), which focuses on the problem of domestic violence. The producer, Santiago García de Leániz, will introduce the film.

Pressure from Parliament to combat domestic violence

Domestic violence is just one form of aggression suffered by women but it occurs in all countries and all social classes. One woman in five in the EU has suffered violence at the hands of her male partner. And twenty-five per cent of all violent crimes reported in Europe involve a man assaulting his wife or partner.

In response to a 1997 European Parliament resolution on the need to establish an EU-wide campaign for "zero tolerance of violence against women", the European Commission conducted an awareness-raising campaign in 1999-2000, to highlight domestic violence in particular.

On 8 March last year MEPs called for 2006 to be declared European Year against Violence against Women (§14, Resolution on EU policies on gender equality, 8/03/2004). And the first EP report on domestic violence, currently being drafted by MEP Maria CARLSHAMRE (ALDE, SE), is due to be adopted later this year. Lastly, following pressure from the European Parliament, the future EU Constitution includes a declaration saying that the Union "will aim to combat all kinds of domestic violence" and that "Member States should take all necessary measures to prevent and punish these criminal acts and to support and protect the victims" (Declaration on Article III-116).

The Daphne programmes

Apart from domestic violence, women suffer many other forms of abuse around the world, some linked to specific cultures or societies, such as the stoning of women, female genital mutilation and forced marriages. The EU has undertaken a range of measures to tackle these problems, with strong support from Parliament.

The Daphne programmes, which are adopted jointly by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, seek to combat violence against children, young people and women inside the EU and also outside by supporting NGOs working in non-EU countries. Daphne I (which ran from 2000 to the end of 2003) was a great success: it made such an impact that far more requests for funding were received than had been expected.  It helped fund an education campaign against genital mutilation among women immigrants from Arab and African countries as well as aid projects for abused women drug addicts and a telephone hotline for prostitutes in distress. But with a budget of only €20 million, Daphne I was able to support only 140 projects, although at least double that number qualified.  This prompted MEPs to give strong backing for the continuation and expansion of the programme.

Daphne II, which was steered through Parliament by MEP Lissy GRÖNER (PES, DE), was launched in April 2004 with a budget of €50 million, partly because the arrival of the new Member States meant the need for funding was likely to rise sharply.  This figure was agreed following pressure from MEPs: the Commission had only suggested €41 million. Daphne II will run for one year longer than its predecessor. And this time, Europe's legislators have chosen to target funding on major projects, which can receive up to €250,000 instead of the previous maximum of €125,000.

See also the Daphne website (European Commission):

European Parliament - Strasbourg, Room WIC 100
3-5.30pm Open debate on combating violence against women
Introduction by Josep Borrell, President of the European Parliament
I. Structural violence: women, society and culture (3-4.30pm)
Topics For discussion - women in armed conflicts, illegal trafficking in women, combating female genital mutilation, stopping the stoning of women, groups at-risk (migrants, minority ethnic groups including the Roma people, disabled women).
IN THE CHAIR: Sylvia-Yvonne KAUFMANN (GUE/NGL, DE), EP Vice-President and Vice-Chair of the High-Level Working Group on Gender Equality
Nurit Peled-Elhanan, Israeli peace activist, winner of EP Sakharov Prize 2001
Hélène FLAUTRE (Greens/EFA, FR), chair of EP Subcommittee on Human Rights
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Member of the Lower House of the Netherlands, scriptwriter of film Submission by Theo Van Gogh
Irene Kahn. Global campaign to Stop Violence against Women, Secretary General of Amnesty International
Question time for the press
II. The biggest challenge is in the home. Combating domestic violence (4.30-5.30pm)
Topics for discussion: Domestic violence as a social problem, not a private issue. European dimension of the problem. Role of the actors involved. Lack of clear figures and statistics, need for further research and possible measures to be taken at the EU level.
IN THE CHAIR: Anna ZÁBORSKÁ (EPP-ED, SK), chair of EP Committee on Women's Rights
Nadine Trintignant, Film director
Maria CARLSHAMRE (ALDE, SE), rapporteur of a forthcoming own-initiative report on domestic violence
Marie-Cécile Renauld, co-founder of V-Day - created to raise money for NGOs combating domestic violence.
Lissy GRÖNER (PES, DE), European Parliament rapporteur for the Daphne programme
Question time for the press

6pm Cocktail reception with the press
The experts participating in the debate and other Women's Rights representatives will attend a cocktail reception with the press (outside room WIC 100).
6.30pm Introduction to the film Te doy mis ojos by the producer
The producer of Te doy mis ojos (Take my eyes), Santiago García de Leániz, will present this moving tale which is based on domestic violence. This Spanish film won four awards at the San Sebastian Film Festival and seven Goyas.
7pm Projection of the film (open to everyone in the EP)


Action by the EU against domestic violence

1997: The European Commission sets up the Daphne project to fight violence against women, with a budget of €3 million.
1997: The European Parliament calls for a campaign of no tolerance for violence against women ("Tolerance Zero").
1997: The European Women's Lobby sets up The European Centre for Political Action for Violence against Women and its European Observatory for Violence against Women.
June 1998: Preparatory meeting for the Campaign held under the British EU Presidency.
June 1998: A study by the Council of Europe evaluates the legal situation in 29 countries.
Dec. 1998: The EU holds a meeting of experts in Vienna, under the Austrian presidency, in which 52 norms and recommendations are adopted to eradicate violence against women.
Jan. 1999: The European Commission begins a campaign against domestic violence (with a budget of approx. €4 million).
March 1999: International Women's Day. White ribbon campaign in the EP in support of women who are victims of violence.
March 1999: Conference in Cologne under the German EU presidency, during which 10 more recommendations are adopted.
March 1999: The European Women's Lobby presents the first statistics from its study on domestic violence.
June 1999: Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs of the EU Member States debate the problem of domestic violence.
June 1999: Survey by Eurobarometer on the attitude of the European population towards domestic violence.
Nov. 1999: Finnish EU presidency holds a conference on domestic violence.
Jan. 2000: Start of Daphne programme, to last four years and with a budget of €20 million (to support NGO activities to combat violence against women).
March 2000: Closing conference of the campaign under the Portuguese EU presidency.
March 2004: Adoption of Daphne II programme for a five-year period with a budget of €50 million.


The European Parliament and measures to combat violence against women

Further action in the fight against trafficking in women - EP resolution by Patsy Sörensen (adopted 19 May 2000, A5-0127/2000).

Female genital mutilation.- EP own-initiative report by María Elena VALENCIANO MARTÍNEZ-OROZCO (PES, ES) (adopted 29 September 2001, A5-0285/2001)

Daphne II programme (launched 8 March 2004): €50m to be provided for the period 2004-08 to NGOs and other bodies combattng violence against women. EP rapporteur: Lissy GRÖNER (PES, DE)

The European Union's policies on gender equality - EP resolution (adopted 10 March 2004)
(The EP calls on the Commission to declare 2006 European Year against Violence against Women).

Trafficking of women and children who are vulnerable to sexual exploitation - EP own-initiative report by Christa PRETS (PES, AT) (to be adopted in the spring).

Domestic violence in Europe - EP own-initiative report by Maria CARLSHAMRE (ALDE, SE) (to be adopted later this year).

The European Commission is preparing a legislative proposal to create the European Gender Institute, which would initially have a budget of €50m for a 5 year-period. The EP will respond in a report later this year.

Last updated: 2 March 2005Legal notice