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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

MEPs call for a directive to combat violence against women

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News Rape and other sexual violence against women should be recognised as a crime throughout the EU, and its perpetrators prosecuted automatically, said the Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committee on Tuesday, in a resolution calling for an EU directive to combat gender-based violence.

The committee calls for a criminal-law instrument in the form of an EU directive against gender-based violence. 20-25% of all women in Europe have experienced physical acts of violence at least once during their adult lives, and more than one-tenth have suffered sexual violence involving the use of force, notes the resolution. Women do not have equal protection against male violence across the EU, because the relevant national laws and policies differ from one Member State to the next. In several Member States, rape is not treated as a state offence, it adds. The resolution also notes that in many cases, women fail to lodge complaints against acts of gender violence, for reasons ranging from economic, social and cultural factors to a lack of trust in the police and legal system. Automatic prosecution of sexual violence Member States should recognise rape and sexual violence against women as a crime, particularly within marriage and intimate informal relationships and/or where committed by male relatives, says the resolution. Member States should also ensure that such offences result in automatic prosecution. Any reference to cultural traditional or religious practices as a mitigating factor, including so-called "crimes of honour" and female genital mutilation, must be disregarded, it adds. Stalking should also be considered as a form of violence against women and be treated by means of a common legal framework in all Member States, it adds. Preventing exploitation The EU and its Member States should also establish laws guaranteeing immigrant women the right to hold their own passports and residence permits, says the resolution, adding that it should be made possible to hold a person criminally responsible for taking these documents away. Legal aid MEPs call for minimum standards to ensure that victims have advice from a legal practitioner, irrespective of their role in the criminal proceedings, and ask that mechanisms be introduced to facilitate access to free legal aid enabling victims to assert their rights throughout the Union. Help for victims The resolution calls on Member States to develop age-appropriate psychosocial counselling to help child witnesses of all forms of violence to cope with their traumatic experiences. MEPs also urge Member States to provide at least one shelter per 10,000 population for victims of gender-based violence.

Source :  Press room - European Parliament


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