Ahead of the final negotiations on the VAW Directive, a group of European Civil society Human Rights networks including La Strada International have sent in an open joint letter to urge governments to agree on the most robust Directive possible to prevent, prosecute and redress violence against women. It is hoped that in February a political agreement will be reached.
In the letter we urge governments to act in accordance with their international and regional human rights obligations, particularly under the Istanbul Convention, and agree on the most robust Directive possible to prevent, prosecute and redress violence against women. EU Member States should ensure that the Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence (COM (2022) criminalises rape with a consent-based definition, as well as female and intersex genital mutilation, forced sterilisation, forced marriage, and sexual harassment in the workplace. It should combat violence on grounds of sex and gender, and address intersectional discrimination, with specific attention paid to LBTIQ+ women, women sex workers, and women who are undocumented migrants or have an insecure or dependent residence status.
We further call for strengthened protection and access to justice for victims, including access to compensation and safe reporting mechanisms through the establishment of strict firewalls between immigration and other authorities to ensure survivors are not deterred from reporting violence due to their residency status. The Directive should further guarantee comprehensive support to victims and access to both general and specialist support services, including the clinical management of rape and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care for victims of sexual violence, as well as support for child victims. We also call for the adoption of widespread and effective preventive measures, including a clear obligation to provide comprehensive sexuality education.
See also the earlier joint position paper