Violence Against Women: The European Union establishes an EU-wide helpline number and calls to end violence against women worldwide

Ahead of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November, the European Commission and High Representative/Vice President, Josep Borrell issued the following statement:

“Violence against women happens in every country. The facts are shocking – in the EU and across the world, one in three women have experienced physical or sexual violence. One in five girls today are victims of child sexual abuse. Online violence is on the rise, with one in two young women experiencing gender-based cyber violence.

The EU condemns all forms of violence against women and girls. It is unacceptable in the 21st century that women and girls continue to be abused, harassed, raped, mutilated or forced into marriage.

In March this year, the European Commission proposed new EU rules to combat violence against women, including online. Today, the Commission is also announcing the establishment of a common EU helpline number for victims of violence against women – 116 016.

This year, we pay particular attention to violence against women in conflict areas. In Ukraine, Russian armed forces are committing acts of sexual violence, and the millions of women and children fleeing the Russian aggression into the EU and neighbouring countries require proper support and protection.

In Iran, women are abused, exploited, oppressed, harassed, jailed, fined and flogged for demanding freedom and equality. In Afghanistan, the Taliban have dismantled all protection mechanisms established over the past 20 years to protect women and girls from abuse, violence and forced marriages. Women face violence also in humanitarian crises from Myanmar to northern Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

We remain steadfast in our ambition to end violence against women inside and outside the EU. The EU stands in solidarity with the women and girls, victims and survivors of violence. We will continue to support civil society, women’s rights organisations and human rights defenders demanding accountability.”

Eliminate violence against women, the most widespread, pervasive human rights violation

Eliminate violence against women, the most widespread, pervasive human rights violation

According to the UN, violence against women and girls (VAWG) is not only one of the worst forms of discrimination but also remains the most widespread and pervasive human rights violation in the world, 11 UN entities said on Friday, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

One in three women are thought to experience gender-based violence in their lifetime, according to a statement launching the “UNiTE! Activism to End Violence against Women and Girls campaign.”

Moreover, that last year, nearly one in five 20- to 24-year-old women had been married before turning 18 and less than 40 percent who experience violence sought the help of any sort.

Violent triggers

At the same time, global emergencies, crises, and conflict have further intensified VAWG and exacerbated the drivers and risk factors.

The statement reads, “Since the beginning of COVID-19, 45% of women reported that they or a woman they know has experienced a form of VAWG.”

Combatting the scourge

While ending gender-based VAWG might seem unimaginable, the UN underscored that “it is not”.

The statement continued, “Significant reductions in violence against women can be achieved through intensive feminist activism and advocacy along with evidence- and practice-informed multisectoral action and investment.”

Citing evidence suggesting that “strong and autonomous feminist movements” as being “the most critical factor” in ending VAWG, UN Women and its sister agencies are calling upon governments and partners to “act now to end violence against women and show their solidarity to women’s rights movements and activists”.

Taking steps, making a stand

The UN is requesting more long-term funding and support for women’s rights organizations working to prevent and address VAWG through the UNiTE campaign.

It is also advocating for resisting the rollback on women’s rights; amplifying the voices of women human rights defenders and feminist women’s movements; mobilizing more actors to join movements to end VAGW globally; and promoting the leadership and participation of women and girls in political, policy making, and decision-making spaces.

The statement also underscores the need to strengthen protections to prevent and eliminate violence, harassment, threats, intimidation, and discrimination against women human rights defenders and women’s rights advocates/activists.