European Union approves first law to combat violence against women

STRASBOURG — The European Parliament announced that EU Member States approved the first laws on addressing violence against women.

The law aims to protect women in the 27 EU countries from gender-based violence, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, and online harassment.

The European Commission had proposed the broad legislation on 8 March 2022 on International Women’s Day.

Irish MEP Frances Fitzgerald (Fine Gael) told reporters in Strasbourg that the announcement was a clear message across the EU that they take violence against women seriously.

“This has been demanded by women and girls across the EU for more than 30 years,” said Swedish MEP Evin Incir (Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, S&D).

The text criminalizes harassment, online harassment, online incitement to hatred or violence throughout the EU. The law does not, however, include a common definition of rape, the most contentious issue in the negotiations.

The European Commission will have to conduct a review every five years to determine whether there is a need to update the rules.