Green Party Women

Green leader welcomes new EU presidency focus on gendered violence

13 January 2010

Green Party leader and Euro-MP Caroline Lucas has praised the Spanish government for its solid commitment to tackling violence against women across the European Union as it prepares to take on the EU presidency.

Opening Spain’s six-month rotating EU presidency, the country’s interior minister launched a campaign for a new approach to gendered violence, with proposals for a Europe-wide system of restraint orders aimed at curbing attacks on women, a reworking of crime statistics to highlight the problem, and for EU legislation to protect women across borders.

The South East Green MEP, who sits on the Euro-Parliament’s Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee, said: “The Spanish government should be applauded for recognising that urgent coordinated action is required at the EU level to tackle the crisis of gendered violence. Not enough is being done to address the causes, care for the victims, adequately punish the perpetrators – and make violence against women absolutely unacceptable.

The interior minister Alfredo Rubalcaba’s promising proposals indicate that Spain is willing to make this issue a priority during its term in EU presidency. Rubalcaba, who has been attending European police and justice councils for more than three years, told the Guardian that these meetings had never specifically covered gender violence – a horrifying fact when you consider that violence against women is a serious problem across the EU.”

She continued: “The proposed cross-border European legislation could play a crucial role in identifying men with a history of gendered violence and in ensuring that a restraining order put on a violent partner in one EU country also applies in another.

The Spanish campaign will also serve to raise awareness of the scale of the problem. Here in the UK, the statistics speak for themselves; the British Crime Survey suggests that there are more than 300,000 rapes and serious sexual assaults each year. The conviction rate in rape cases is around 6.5 per cent – the lowest in Europe, according to a recent survey.

“Amnesty International estimates that one woman in four will experience domestic violence at some point in her life, while on average, two women are murdered every week by their partner or ex partner. So-called ‘honour’ killings are another growing threat to women, with the Association of Chief Police Officers estimating that 17,000 "honour" crimes are committed against women each year.”

Caroline Lucas concluded: “EU governments must ensure more is done to support the victims of violence. Here at home, the government needs to address the funding crisis faced by many specialist support agencies like Rape Crisis centres, which offer enormous support to women when they are most vulnerable."

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