Malin Björk on how to stop gender-based violence
Gender-based violence limits our space, diminishes our lives – and takes lives. Violence and the threat of violence limit life in public. In schools, on streets, squares, on social media.
Malin Björk, Swedish MEP speaks at the chamber in the European Parliament on the need to step up efforts to combat all forms of physical and sexual violence against women & girls.
“One in three women in the EU has been subjected to physical or sexual violence, and every week an average of 50 women die as a result of gender-based violence
It is a structural problem and it is one of the most serious human rights violations we face.
This House – the European Parliament – has been at the forefront of every step the European Parliament has taken to end gender-based violence. Every single one!
This time, together with my co-rapporteur, Diana Riba, I have had the opportunity to hold the pen and negotiate another strong position with concrete demands for action to combat gender-based violence.
We demand European legislation.
But we also say that criminal legislation and justice are only part of the equation.
We state that the fight against gender-based violence cannot be seen separately from the fight for gender equality, the work for women’s rights in all parts of society. Gender-based violence is intimately linked to patriarchal structures, to inequality between women and men, to the lack of economic independence for women, to the lack of justice.
In our report, we state that in order to combat gender-based violence, we must have the right to control our bodies, and our sexuality; we must have the right to free abortion, contraception, and other essential sexual and reproductive health services. Forced pregnancy is violence in itself.
In our report, we state that we must ensure that any action we take is aimed at strengthening women’s rights, empowerment, the right to receive support and services.
We state that we must strengthen women’s shelters – the very pillar of the fight against gender-based violence.
We are saying that the justice system must be so much better – that it delivers convictions so that slowly but surely, everywhere and in all parts, we actually put the blame where it belongs – on the perpetrators. We must therefore have legislation that is based on consent.
In our report, we also state that gender-based violence affects LGBTQI people, and that this must be included when combating gender-based violence.
We say that threats, hatred, and violence against LGBTQI people also stem from patriarchal and sexist notions, oppressive notions of how we should be as human beings, and where those who violate heteronormative demands are threatened and subjected to violence.
We say in our report that together we can, and must, push back against gender-based violence against LGBTQI people too.
Everyone on board?
You’d think there was no one against this? That we all want to get to grips with this.
But it’s not that simple: there are conservative and sexist forces who don’t want to see greater equality, who want to continue to control women’s lives and bodies, who want to deny us the right to decide our sexuality and if and when we want to have children, – who think it’s ok to restrict our lives.
They sometimes give other reasons, but it’s because our bodies and lives are less important to them.
They won’t beat us down.
Every advance, every single one has been a struggle – feminists and activists, organizations, and survivors themselves, are the ones who have been pushing – along with allies in parliament – to tighten laws.
I want to thank all the tireless feminists who are fighting to end violence against women, girls and LGBTIQ people – who are supporting victims but also ensuring that we in decision-making positions can take the right action – action that really makes a difference.
Now we adopt this report and send a strong signal to the Commission and the member states.
Together we will ensure that the EU does better and more, that our individual countries do better and more – we will not give up until we put an end to gender-based violence.”