The UN Special Procedures Expressed Concern Over the Draft Proposal for a EU Directive: a Review is Necessary to Effectively Fight Violence Against Women
On March 8th, 2022, the European Commission published the draft proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council having the main purpose to provide a comprehensive framework to effectively fight violence against women and domestic violence in all member states. (UN Special Procedures OL OTH 97/2022) The Directive focuses on the criminalisation of rape, enphasising the “lack of consent” as element of the crime; female genital mutilation and cyber violence, including non-consensual sharing of intimate images, cyber stalking, cyber harassment, and cyber incitement to violence or hatred. (European Commission, 2022)
Violence against women and domestic violence remain a worrying phenomeno throughtout the EU, with data suggesting a sharply increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From that, the urge to tackle the issue with a comprehensive legal framework able to guarantee justice and remedies to survivors while preventing future crimes. (European Commission, 2022) In this regard, the Directive fails to utilise a multi-sectoral approach which is crucial to achieve results. As noted by Special Procedures, in order to set up a comprehensive framework to prevent and eradicate violence against women, the Directeve should avoid giving preferential priority to the areas of prosecution and criminal track. Instead, equal attention should be dedicated to all areas, including prevention, prosecution, protection as well as legislative and policy interventions. (UN Special Procedures OL OTH 97/2022)
The UN Special Procedure expressed concerns over gaps which risks making the Directive an ineffective legal instrument. In particular, the SP detected the lack of any reference to the States responsibility “to exercise due diligence to not only prevent, but also implement comprehensive awareness-raising programs and investigate and punish acts of violence against women, whether those acts are perpetrated by the State or by private actors.” As of now, the draft proposal of the Directive does not fully comply with Article 4 (c & d) of the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (CEDAW). (UN Special Procedures OL OTH 97/2022) Other concerns relates to (a) the lacks of emphasis on the psychological violence associated with violence against women and girls and the psychological consequences; (b) the exclusion of “lesbian, bisexual, trans and other gender diverse, intersex and queer (LBTIQ) women,” as inclusive expression considering gender identity or sex characteristics; (c) lack of ad hoc attention to vulnerable groups of women and girls, such as refugee and migrant women, stateless women, women belonging to racial and ethnic minorities, amongst others; weak data collection systems; (d) failure to properly address intimate partner violence in custody rights; (e) the absence of explicit preventive measures directed to the protection of children; and (f) the failure to address the societal issue of gender steorytyping. (UN Special Procedures OL OTH 97/2022)
In conclusion, the UN Special Procedures recommend the EU institutions to review the aforementioned gaps and take into consideration the main international instrument to propose a comprehensive framework to combat violence against women. Particular attention should be reserved to the CEDAW and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), while the EU is called to complete the formal accession to the Istanbul Convention. (UN Special Procedures OL OTH 97/2022)
Sources and Further Readings:
European Commission (March 8, 2022), International Women’s Day 2022: Commission proposes EU-wide rules to combat violence against women and domestic violence, European Commission Press Release, retrieved on October 28th, 2022, from https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_1533.
United Nations Special Procedures, Communication to the Permanent Delegation of the European Union, OL OTH 97/2022, https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/TMResultsBase/DownLoadPublicCommunicationFile?gId=27600.