Violence against women: the reality in Europe
One generally gets the impression that violence against women is on the rise. Is that true or do we simply hear more about it now?
Martine Levy, a voice for women in Europe
I can't say for sure. Human trafficking has of course increased since the EU enlargement, because the borders are porous. And there are certain population groups that are more inclined to be violent towards women and want their total subjugation and dependence. Take fundamentalist practices such as forced marriage, for instance. A totally new type of violence against women and a reality in Europe today.
Or genital mutilation …
Yes, that is a big issue. Each year, some 10,000 women are circumcised in Europe. This is practiced especially in immigrant families. In the name of culture, tradition or religion, little girls are brutally mutilated. It is the same all over Europe, and there are problems everywhere as to how to deal with it.
That makes you really angry …
Of course, the figures do make you angry. Because there is such a huge amount of hypocrisy behind it: It is simply absurd to agree on the fundamental values of the EU on the one hand – and this includes equal status for women – and then allow such violence to be perpetrated against women.
Which countries would be considered the safest for women these days?
That would probably be in Sweden and Spain. These are the only countries that have followed their words with deeds.
And which countries are most dangerous for women?
That is difficult to say. Because countries which collect statistics and might also publish bad figures thereby at least demonstrate good faith. Because there are also countries such as Greece which make no information available whatsoever. This does not mean that there is no violence there. We have developed indicators to measure how women are discriminated against and disadvantaged within Europe – why not also indicators for violence against women?
Yes, actually – why not?
The problem is that there is no common base as yet. For that to happen, the constitutional state must acknowledge violence against women – in all its forms. And then it must create a structure, a definition. That will provide the base. Without base there can be no legal framework.