What does the approval of the Directive on violence against women in Europe mean?

It was in the final stretch. Late on Tuesday, when there was almost no time left, the Council and Parliament agreed for the first time on a European Union directive on violence against women and gender violence. Called “historic”, it establishes common rules to criminalize different forms of gender violence, prevention and protection of victims, and guaranteeing equal access to justice, support and prosecution in all Member States.

It’s to celebrate. In the entire European Union there are only two laws of gender violence, that of Spain and that of Sweden. In the rest of the cases, as the MEP explains María Eugenia Rodríguez Palop to THE NEWSPAPER OF SPAINfrom the Prensa Ibérica group, violence against women is subsumed into conventional criminal offenses or, where appropriate, it is referred to as domestic violence.

The approval of this first community law that regulates violence against women is binding for all member states – which have three years to transpose it – which will modify their social agenda. Also “completely changes the panorama of many women”, whose lives, until now, were not regulated by any norm of these characteristics. Furthermore, adds the MEP, she contemplates a series of measures that have to do with the protection, support, advice and cooperation of those who suffer sexist violence. Because, as the Council recalls, In the European Union, one in three women has suffered physical or sexual violence, the majority by their partner or ex-partner..

No violation

However, rape is not included, at least as a criminal offense. Its definition was the main obstacle to achieving this regulation.

He report approved by the European Parliamentwhich established its position to negotiate with the Council of the European Union, sought to unify this crime based on explicit consent; in the “only yes is yes”“, as is the case in Spain. “Many Member States continue to require the use of force, threats or coercion for the crime of rape. Others are based solely on the condition that the victim has not consented to the sexual act. Only this last approach achieves full protection of the sexual integrity of the victims,” ​​the text indicated.

But they encountered opposition from states they did not expect: Germany and France, as well as Hungary. They argued that There was no legal basis to incorporate rape as a criminal offense because, in their opinion, there was no direct relationship with the Eurocrime of sexual exploitation. that they used in this directive, along with that of cyber violence. They were also opposed to sexual assaults being included in the list of these Eurocrimes. With both arguments, they ended up approving the directive without giving in.

Although there are opinions that believe that what these States really wanted to avoid was that the European Union legislate from a criminal point of view, in a firm defense of its legal sovereignty. “We have fought the hardest. We managed to convince 13 countries of the 15 that we needed, but we have therefore encountered the enormous irresponsibility of these two countries,” says Rodríguez Palop.

Review clause

Although the MEP adds that her desire until the last moment has been to incorporate it, it has been introduced rape based on consent in the prevention part. This means that they will force, through an article, that States carry out “educational campaigns so that people internalize that sex without consent is rape.” “This means that we are going to generate that pedagogy,” he indicates.

It has also been incorporated a review clause of the directive, which gives rise to the incorporation of new criminal types five years after its transposition. That is, in eight years. They trust that, by then, the message will have penetrated that sex without consent is rape, as stated in the Istanbul Convention that all States have ratified.

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