The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

EU agreement on tougher measures against violence against women

Sexual and domestic violence are to be punished more severely in the EU in future. Negotiators from the European Parliament and EU member states agreed on Tuesday in Strasbourg on a law that will regulate certain offenses in the same way in all countries. According to the EU countries and the Parliament, this is the first EU law to combat sexual violence. "Today we are taking the first step towards making Europe the first continent in the world to eliminate violence against women," said Frances Fitzgerald, the European Parliament's chief negotiator.

Cyber-stalking, forced marriage, female genital mutilation - or if intimate images are forwarded without consent - will be punishable throughout the EU in future. The new regulations still have to be approved by Parliament and the EU member states. In most cases, this is a formality.

However, EU-wide standards on rape were not regulated. Parliament called for a regulation requiring consent to every sexual act: Only yes means yes. However, several countries in the EU, including Germany, had blocked this. Critics argued that there was no legal basis for such a uniform regulation in European law. A corresponding article therefore did not make it into the law.

Previously, over a hundred prominent women had written an open letter to Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP) calling on him to abandon the blockade. "I am very disappointed that some member states have chosen to be on the wrong side of history and block the inclusion of a consent-based rape law," said Socialist MEP Evin Incir.

In future, however, the EU member states must set up a national telephone helpline that victims of violence can contact around the clock and free of charge. They should also take measures to prevent violence against women and domestic violence. These should, for example, aim to raise awareness of the forms of violence against women and combat harmful gender stereotypes.


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