Violence against women in Europe

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Violence against women: an everyday reality in Europe © Jupiter  - Violence against women in Europe
Violence against women: an everyday reality in Europe © Jupiter
Every fifth woman in Europe is a victim of domestic violence – and that is only the figure of known cases. Every day, women are abducted and forced into prostitution; over 250,000 such cases of trafficking in women come to light every year. Every third woman will suffer rape or sexual abuse sometime in her life. Women are discriminated against and abused, and often defenseless.

Violence against women must be taken seriously as a problem at long last, says Martine Levy, Vice-President of the European Women's Lobby (EWL). In an interview with us, recounted below, Levy demands purposeful action by the EU governments.

From our forums: "I was in such a situation for seven years. Seven years of violence, physical and mental. It took a long time for me to rebuild my courage and my dignity as a woman, but I managed it."

"Once, my husband beat me so badly that I ended up in hospital. That constant pressure and that fear – and it just left me drained. He ill-treated me so often that I thought in the end that I somehow deserved it."                

What was your first impression when reading these postings?
These are really sad stories, and yet these women are courageous enough to share their experiences with others. That is very important, because it teaches us that violence against women is not just to do with the physical injuries. It is something all-encompassing that violates basic rights such as her bodily integrity, but also her dignity. It is a symptom of the prevailing inequality and also the reason why there is still such a large discrepancy between our principles and laws on the one hand and factual reality on the other.

Can you explain that in more detail?
Just consider the fact that women today aren't even safe in their own homes. That shows that they are not respected, and this goes beyond physical injuries. Violence against women, whether physical or mental, is demeaning. And since it has so many facets, is expressed not only in blows, but also in words or in sexual debasement, it affects all women. Of course there are also men who become victims. In many of the new member states of the EU there is violence against gay people. But the majority of victims of violence in our society are women.



Women in Focus Editor
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