Politics & Economics

EU Member States join forces to tackle gender violence and discrimination

May 2024
By Editorial Staff

Today’s Employment, Social Policy, Health, and Consumer Affairs EU Council has taken a significant step forward in combating discrimination and gender violence with the approval of three directives. They’re both aimed at safeguarding the values of equality and non-discrimination, emphasizing the necessity of decisive action to address these issues.

The directive tackling violence against women received its green light during the last European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg. It mandates all EU member states to criminalize various forms of actions undermining women’s integrity and freedom, including female genital mutilation, forced marriage, and cyber violence such as the unauthorized sharing of intimate images. By establishing clear legal frameworks and penalties, the directive aims to deter such offenses and protect victims’ rights.

In addition to this, the directive introduces measures to prevent gender violence and enhance victim protection, setting standards for victim assistance and outlines guidelines for reporting crimes, making it easier for victims to seek help and support. For instance, it limits the use of evidence related to past sexual conduct, unless directly relevant to criminal proceedings, to prevent re-victimization and ensure fair treatment within the legal system.

Furthermore, the new framework emphasizes preventive measures by raising awareness of the root causes of violence against women and promoting the importance of consent in sexual relationships, to create a safer future for women and men alike.

In a parallel effort to promote equality and combat discrimination, the EU Council also adopted directives to strengthen the role of equality bodies across the EU. These bodies play a vital role in promoting equal treatment and providing support to victims of discrimination.

This includes granting equality bodies expanded competencies to address discrimination in various areas such as employment and social security, ensuring their independence from external influence, and providing sufficient resources for their operations.

Moreover, the directives empower these bodies to engage in activities to prevent discrimination and advocate for equal treatment, such as promoting positive action and mainstreaming equality. They also grant increased powers to conduct inquiries and resolve disputes related to discrimination cases, aligning with national laws and practices.

Overall, these directives represent a significant commitment by the Member States to promote equality, protect fundamental rights, and combat violence and discrimination against women. By establishing clear legal frameworks and empowering relevant institutions, the EU aims to create a more inclusive and equitable society for all its citizens.