Europe’s Battle Against Rape: A Call for Uniformity

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Now more than ever, regulations to ensure women’s safety are required (Image credit: BBC).

In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the need to protect women’s rights, particularly when it comes to combating rape and other forms of violence against women in Europe. The statistics are alarming, with one in twenty women in the European Union (EU) having been a victim of rape. This article explores the significant developments in the EU to establish laws that protect women’s rights, focusing on the issue of rape.

In the EU, more than 100,000 rapes are recorded each year. These figures, provided by the Insee, highlight the urgency of addressing the issue and providing comprehensive legal protection for women. The situation is equally dire in France, where at least ten women become victims of rape or attempted rape every hour, according to the National Observatory for Violence against Women. Recognizing this pressing issue, the European Commission proposed ambitious legislation on March 8, 2022, the International Women’s Day, to address violence against women, including rape.

The proposed legislation aims to establish a common definition of serious forms of violence primarily affecting women, such as rape, female genital mutilation, cyber harassment, non-consensual sharing of intimate images, and forced marriage. These definitions provide a crucial framework for addressing and prosecuting such crimes uniformly across all EU member states.

In addition to common definitions, the legislation seeks to harmonize penalties for violence at the European level. This measure ensures that perpetrators of violence do not escape justice based on the state they are in. The legislation is a significant step towards ending impunity and ensuring that perpetrators are held accountable for their actions, regardless of their location within the EU.

The legislation also introduces measures to protect women who are victims of violence. It obliges EU member states to implement comprehensive support measures, including shelter and legal support for victims. This ensures that women have access to necessary resources and assistance during their recovery and the legal process.

While the European Parliament has shown strong support for these legislative efforts, challenges remain. Some member states, including France, have been reluctant to include a common definition of rape in the legislation, despite the pressing need for such uniformity. This has prompted concerns from various stakeholders, including Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), who are pushing for stronger measures to protect women against rape.

The instauration of laws protecting women’s rights, particularly against rape, is a vital step in addressing the alarming rates of violence against women in Europe. As the EU moves forward with this legislation, it is crucial to ensure that a common definition of rape is included, providing equal protection to women across all member states. The adoption of this legislation is not only a legal imperative but also a moral obligation to protect and empower women, ensuring that they are no longer forced to endure a “fighting journey” when seeking justice. The efforts of MEPs and advocates for women’s rights are essential in bringing about a safer and more equitable Europe for all.

Written by Imane Moumen

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