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  • Writer's pictureOlga Nesterova

EU Implements Landmark Directive to Combat Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence

The European Union has taken a significant step in addressing the pervasive issue of violence against women and domestic violence with the implementation of its first-ever set of rules dedicated to this cause.

With an estimated one in three of the 228 million women in the EU affected by such violence, the need for comprehensive measures to safeguard their rights and well-being is paramount.

The newly enforced Directive seeks to criminalize various forms of violence against women, including those perpetrated online, while also bolstering victims' access to justice, protection, and support services. At its core, the Directive aims to uphold the fundamental principles of equal treatment and non-discrimination between women and men.

Particularly noteworthy is the Directive's stance against gender-based violence, which unequivocally bans practices such as female genital mutilation, forced marriage, and prevalent forms of cyber violence. In an age where the internet serves as both a tool for connectivity and a platform for harm, addressing cyber violence has become increasingly urgent. The Directive specifically targets cyber offences such as non-consensual sharing of intimate images, cyber stalking, cyber harassment, and cyber flashing, including the alarming rise of deepfake technology.

Věra Jourová, Vice-President for Values and Transparency, said: “For the first time ever, we criminalise gender-based cyber violence, such as non-consensual sharing of intimate images, including deepfakes, which is a nightmare for many women. Such violence is often the reason why women leave public life. Online violence is real violence and violence against women is an every minute problem.”

Helena Dalli, Commissioner for Equality added: “This Directive offers a thorough response to a pervasive issue. It addresses the prevention of gender-based violence, the protection and support of victims, and the adequate punishment for perpetrators. This is an important step toward eradicating violence against women and domestic violence.

Crucially, the Directive extends support to victims of cyber violence in Member States where such acts have not yet been criminalised, highlighting the EU's commitment to safeguarding the rights and dignity of all individuals, both online and offline. By enacting these measures, the EU aims to create a safer and more equitable society for women, free from the scourge of violence and discrimination.

Member States have until 14 June 2027 to transpose the Directive into their national law.


Source: European Comission, June 13, 2024


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