End violence against women now!

Ahead of International Women's Day tomorrow, GUE/NGL MEP MEPs have joined the global call for an end to violence against women.

“Despite violence against women being considered a serious human rights violation, the international community has still not managed to put an end to it,” commented GUE/NGL President Gabi Zimmer. “This simply has to change. A comprehensive legal act at the EU level to combat all forms of violence against women could go a long way. That is why last week in plenary we supported a resolution that was adopted calling on the Commission to put forward concrete measures by the end of 2014 to prevent gender-based violence against women. The Commission must respect this call and recognise the extent of the problem.”

Gabi Zimmer added: “International Women's Day is a day for defending what has been achieved over the last few decades in terms of women’s rights and gender equality. And we on the Left in the European Parliament must keep on defending these gains as they come under increasing attack from Europe's very own 'tea party'-style right-wing forces who wish to rollback these advances. Over the last few months this has been particularly difficult, most notably with the throwing out of a progressive report on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). But we will not stop defending the plight of vulnerable women.”

GUE/NGL MEP and Chair of the Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committee, Mikael Gustafsson commented: “Gender-based violence against women is a type of abuse which contributes to the repression of women as individuals and as a group; a form of abuse directed against women for the simple fact that they are women. Gender-based violence against women is much more than violence as defined by criminal law. More often than not violence inflicted on women is also sexualized.”

The Swedish MEP continued: “When we talk about such violence we are also talking about a variety of complex situations, each with their own different socio-economic specificities to consider: violence in close relationships; sexual abuse; human trafficking; forced marriage; and female genital mutilation. When we are drawing up strategies to tackle them we must consider these specificities, and the best way to do this is to work closely with those on the frontline: the women's rights NGOs all around the world who do brilliant and absolutely essential work at both the policy advocacy and the grassroots' level. We all need to get together and strengthen efforts to prevent violence against women and girls.”

This week the EU agency for fundamental rights (FRA) published a report revealing that one in three women in the European Union have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15. The study also showed the abuse was widespread across all member states.

Portuguese MEP Inês Zuber commented: “We can't hide from the reality of this problem any longer. The FRA study proves that violence against women affects society as a whole. The fight for gender equality is also connected to the austerity measures being pushed by EU leaders, as these have been particularly devastating to the lives of women across the EU, pushing them into precarious work and economic dependency. Social and gender equality go hand-in-hand.”

Zuber continued: “Yesterday, the GUE/NGL held a conference on defending sexual and reproductive health and rights, highlighting the importance of ensuring all women have access to the appropriate care. The focus was on the situation in Spain, Ireland, Germany, and Portugal and the aim was to strengthen feminist solidarity across Europe.”

GUE/NGL Press Contacts:
Emily Macintosh +32 470 85 05 08
David Lundy +32 470 85 05 09
Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20
European United Left / Nordic Green Left
European Parliamentary Group