European Parliament and Council Reach Agreement on Directive to Combat Violence Against Women: A Step Forward with Room for Improvement

On February 6th, 2024, amidst the observance of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), a significant development unfolded in the European Parliament and The Council. After much anticipation, a political agreement was reached on a directive aimed at combating violence against women and domestic violence (referred to as "The Directive"). This milestone marks a crucial step forward in addressing gender-based violence and advancing gender equality within the European Union.

End FGM EU warmly welcomes the adoption of the directive, recognizing it as the first European legal instrument specifically targeting gender-based violence. Notably, the directive criminalizes FGM and forced marriage as Eurocrimes, ensuring uniform punishment across the Union and establishing minimum rights for survivors in all Member States. Additionally, it mandates specialized support services, promotes professional training, and requires preventative measures to be implemented.

While celebrating this progress, End FGM EU acknowledges the disappointments surrounding certain aspects of the directive. The absence of a common consent-based definition of rape and the oversight regarding the safety of undocumented migrant women are notable concerns. Throughout negotiations, End FGM EU, alongside other civil society organizations, advocated for amendments to strengthen the directive. Although not all recommendations were adopted, the network emphasizes the necessity of an inclusive, intersectional, and comprehensive approach to combatting violence rooted in harmful gender norms and stereotypes.

Despite its significance, the directive falls short in certain areas, notably the resistance from some national governments to include a consent-based rape definition and the prioritization of migration control. This failure to assert women's rights underscores the ongoing struggle to achieve gender equality and the persistent resistance fueled by entrenched gender norms.

While acknowledging the directive's role in establishing minimal standards across the Union, End FGM EU calls upon Member States to go beyond these standards and afford higher levels of protection when implementing the directive into national law.

End FGM EU extends gratitude to all individuals and organizations dedicated to advancing gender equality and progressing the directive. The network remains committed to advocating for a more robust framework and strengthened rights, ensuring the protection and empowerment of women across the European Union.

To read the reactions of other organisations in the European Coalition to End Violence Against Women, please see Amnesty, IPPF, Wave, La Strada, EL*C, PICUM, HRW, OII Europe and ReproRights.
European Parliament and Council Reach Agreement on Directive to Combat Violence Against Women: A Step Forward with Room for Improvement