Dalli hails milestone in addressing gender-based violence across EU

Commissioner Helena Dalli hails gender-based directive as victory for gender equality throughout EU

Helena Dalli
Helena Dalli

Malta’s Commissioner for Equality Helena Dalli has welcomed the new rules brokered with the European Parliament and member states on combating violence against women and domestic violence.

“It is a victory for gender equality throughout the European Union. This Directive extends protections beyond physical violence to include psychological, economic, and sexual violence,” Dalli, who piloted the directive proposals, said.

“I extend my congratulations to the Council and the European Parliament for today’s progress. Nonetheless, our journey must continue to ensure an EU wide recognition of rape as a non-consensual act.

Dalli said directive was a milestone as the first comprehensive legal instrument at EU level to tackle violence against women, which is still too pervasive in the European Union.

The Directive criminalises physical violence, as well as psychological, economic and sexual violence against women across the EU, both offline and online.

Female genital mutilation as well as forced marriage will be criminalised as stand-alone crimes.

Moreover, the most widespread forms of cyber-violence will be criminalised under the new rules, including the non-consensual sharing of intimate images, including deepfakes, cyber-stalking, cyber-harassment, misogynous hate speech and “cyber-flashing”.

“These criminalisations will in particular help victims of these forms of cyberviolence in Member States that did not yet criminalise these acts. This is an urgent issue to address, given the exponential spread and dramatic impact of violence online,” Dalli said.

The new directive also requires measures to develop skills and digital literacy that enable users to identify and address cyber violence, seek support and prevent its perpetration.

However no agreement was found on the criminalisation of rape based on lack of consent at Union level, proposed by the Commission.

The respect for the victims' privacy in judicial proceedings is another key point of the new rules.

Member states will be encouraged to gather the most important data on violence against women and foster coordination and exchanges of best practices and cooperation in criminal cases, including via Eurojust and the European Judicial Network.

Dalli said the Directive stil includes strong prevention requirements to promote the central role of consent in sexual relationships and, also to take targeted measures for the prevention of rape.

The new Directive also provides for measures to prevent all types of violence against women, including domestic violence and sets new standards for victims' protection, support, and access to justice, for example, by obliging member states to establish helplines and rape crisis centres to support victims.

“As proposed by the Commission, the Directive will require member states to ensure safe, gender-sensitive and easier reporting of crimes of violence against women and domestic violence – including an option to report online. This will tackle the under-reporting of violence against women that still exists today. Moreover, law enforcement authorities will have to assess if the offender might do further harm to the victim and, in that case, take necessary protection measures, such as the prohibition to enter the home of the victim.”

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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The action was co-financed by the European Union in the frame of the European Parliament's grant programme in the field of communication. The European Parliament was not involved in its preparation and is, in no case, responsible for or bound by the information or opinions expressed in the context of this action. In accordance with applicable law, the authors, interviewed people, publishers or programme broadcasters are solely responsible. The European Parliament can also not be held liable for direct or indirect damage that may result from the implementation of the action.

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