EU Parliament adopts first EU-wide rules to combat domestic abuse

By Charlotte Van Campenhout

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Parliament on Wednesday adopted the first EU-wide rules on combating domestic abuse and violence against women.


The new legislation - which passed with 522 in favour, 27 against and 72 abstentions - prohibits female genital mutilation and forced marriage.

It also lays down guidelines for offences committed online, like sharing private information and cyberflashing.

Under the new rules, European Union member states must improve their reporting and evidence-collection procedures. They will also need to increase public awareness that non-consensual sex is a criminal offence.


European Commission data reveal that one in three women in the 27-nation bloc has experienced some type of violence, often from intimate partners.

Moreover, 600,000 women in Europe have undergone female genital mutilation.

Although these offences are considered crimes in most individual member states, and female genital mutilation is illegal in all member states, there are gaps in national laws of some countries and differences in legal frameworks.


"Today, Parliament has taken the first steps to make Europe the first continent in the world to end violence against women. This is a wide-ranging piece of legislation that will prevent violence against women, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators, thereby ensuring a holistic approach to tackling these heinous crimes. There can be no equality without eradication of violence against women. We must ensure that there can be no impunity for those who commit such crimes,” said Frances Fitzgerald, co-rapporteur for the Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee.


The new rules will come into force 20 days after they have been published in the EU Official Journal. Member states then have three years to implement them.

(Reporting by Charlotte Van Campenhout; editing by Mark Heinrich)