Aug 23, 2017

Violence against women in EU

Violence against women can be addressed through a fundamental rights lens. It is a violation of human dignity and, in its worst form, it violates the right to life. It is also an extreme expression of inequality on the ground of sex. Violence against women exists in every society, and encompasses different forms of physical, sexual and psychological abuse. However, despite its scale and social impact, it remains largely under-reported and relatively under-researched in key áreas.
Women can perpetrate violence, and men and boys can be victims of violence at the hands of both sexes, but the results of many researches, together with other data collection, show that violence against women is predominantly perpetrated by men.
In most EU Member States, until relatively recently, violence against women – particularly domestic violence – was considered a private matter in which the state played only a limited role. It is only since the 1990s that violence against women has emerged as a fundamental rights concern that warrants legal and political recognition at the highest level, and as an area where State Parties, as those with a duty to protect, have an obligation to safeguard victims.
Figure 1. Phisical and / or sexual partner violence since the age of 15, EU-28 (%)

Figure 2. Phisical and / or sexual non- partner violence since the age of 15, EU-28 (%)

In the EU, 1 in 5 women have been victims of domestic violence. Traditional practices such as bride kidnapping and honour killings are present in the Region. Female genital mutilation has been documented among migrant communities.
Violence against women undermines women’s core fundamental rights such as dignity, access to justice and gender equality. For example, one in three women (33 %) has experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15. One in five women (18 %) has experienced stalking; every second woman (55 %) has been confronted with one or more forms of sexual harassment.
In some countries like Germany the numbers are shoking: According to the Federal Criminal Police Office´s figures, in 2015, a total of 127,457 people in relationships were targets of murder, bodily harm, rape, sexual assault, threats and stalking. Eighty-two percent, or over 104,000, of these were women.
Among the women, over 65,800 suffered simple injuries, 11,400 were badly injured, 16,200 were subjected to threats and nearly 8,000 were victims of stalking. 331 women were killed intentionally or unintentionally by their partners. The fact that so many cases of deaths in the world from gender-based violence continue in 2017 is certainly the least alarming. According to the World Health Organization in its First World Report on Gender Violence published on June 20, 2013, warns that more than a third of all women in the world are victims of physical or sexual violence, wich is a similar health problem in proportion to an epidemic. And it is, in fact, an epidemic since it is present in all areas of the planet, regardless of culture or religion.
The figures show that 38% of women murdered in the world are the result of gender-based violence in hands of their partner, and 42% of those who suffered physical or sexual violence suffered serious health consequences. According to the first World Report on Gender Violence, the situation by region of women would be as shown in the following WHO map:
According to Sánchez in the period between 2004 and 2014 in Spain and Portugal, the situation was the following number of women murdered as the result of gender-based violence in hands of their partner:
Obviously, what stands out most are the data of the deaths of Spain that far exceed those of Portugal. This is due, in part, to the fact that the population of Spain is far superior to that of Portugal. Specifically, on March 29, 2014 the population of Spain was 47,188,680 inhabitants, with 23,878,736 women, or what is the same, 50.6% of its population. On the other hand, Portugal has 10,751,917 inhabitants and of these, 5,542,254 are women, that is, 51.5% of its population.
Given this, violence against women cannot be seen as a marginal issue that touches only on some women’s lives. Yet the scale of violence against women is not reflected by official data. Women generally do not report to the police, and they also do not report to a number of other services that could support them, including victim support organisations.
Therefore, a serious and deep approach at the state and institutional levels is urgently needed, especially considering that in the last years the number of women murdered by their partners or ex-partners is so high so the number of cases of victims of violence.

  1. DW (2016) Domestic violence affects over 100,000 women in Germany. On-line on:
  2. FRA, E. (2014). Violence Against Women: An EU-Wide Survey. Main Results Report.
  3. Sánchez, M. J. C. (2015). Estudio comparativo entre Portugal y España, de políticas, acciones y discursos en torno a la igualdad de oportunidades para hombre y mujeres.
  4. World Health Organization (2013). Violence against women. On-line on:
Written by Dra. María José Cabanillas Sánchez for The All Results Journals. 

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