Violence against women and domestic violence: Council agrees position on draft EU law


Den 8-9 juni deltog justitieminister Gunnar Strömmer och migrationsminister Maria Malmer Stenergard i det andra formella RIF-mötet under Sveriges ordförandeskap.

Today the Council settled on its position (general approach) on a proposed directive to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence.

Gunnar Strömmer, Swedish minister for justice

Violence against women and girls is a stain on our society. This draft legislation is a strong confirmation of EU action to guarantee that offences such as female genital mutilation, cyber stalking and cyber harrassment will not go unpunished, and that victims of violence against women and domestic violence will get the necessary support and protection.

Gunnar Strömmer, Swedish minister for justice

Criminalisation of female genital mutilation and cyber violence

The new law would criminalise the following offences across the EU:

  • female genital mutilation
  • cyber stalking
  • cyber harrassment
  • non-consensual sharing of intimate images
  • cyber incitement to hatred or violence

With respect to these offences, the proposal contains provisions on penalties, aggravating circumstances, jurisdiction and limitation periods.

Female genital mutilation for instance must become punishable in all member states by a maximum penalty of at least 5 years of imprisonment.

Safe reporting procedures

The directive sets minimum rules for the rights of victims and victims’ protection and support.

When a victim of sexual violence or domestic violence for example first makes contact with an authority the risk posed by the offender or suspect must be assessed. On this basis, authorities would need to provide adequate protection measures. These could include emergency barring and restraining or protection orders.

Member states must also ensure that victims can report acts of violence against women or domestic violence through accessible and easy-to-use channels, which can include the possibility of online reporting and to submit evidence online.

Victims privacy and right to compensation

Member states must also ensure that evidence relating to the victim’s past sexual conduct should only be permitted in criminal proceedings when it is relevant and necessary.

Victims would have the right to claim full compensation from offenders for damages. They should also be able to obtain compensation in the course of criminal proceedings when this is appropriate.

Helplines and rape crisis centres

Member states will also be required to provide dedicated services, such as rape crisis centres, to support the victims of sexual violence. They must furthermore make a national telephone helpline available that victims of violence can reach 24/7, free of charge.

Background and next steps

Violence against women and girls is one of the most systematic and common human rights violations globally. In the EU, one in three women has experienced physical or sexual violence, mostly perpetrated by intimate partners (data from 2014). In 2020, it was estimated that one in two young women experienced gender-based cyber violence.

Currently, no legal instrument specifically addressed violence against women and domestic violence at EU level.

On the basis of the general approach reached today, the Council can start negotiations with the European Parliament once it has agreed its own position.


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