EU approves landmark law combatting violence against women

BRUSSELS — In a historic move, European Union (EU) member states have unanimously approved the bloc’s first dedicated law aimed at combating violence against women. The sweeping legislation targets various forms of violence, including gender-based violence, forced marriages, female genital mutilation, and cyber violence like online stalking.

Key provisions include facilitating reporting mechanisms for domestic abuse survivors and imposing jail sentences of up to five years for perpetrators. Harsher penalties are outlined for crimes against vulnerable groups such as children, spouses, politicians, journalists, and human rights activists.

Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Paul Van Tigchelt emphasized the law’s importance in combatting persisting crimes against women, ensuring strong sanctions for perpetrators and support for victims. The legislation’s passage follows the European Parliament’s approval in April, with member states having three years to implement the directives.

While universally acknowledged as necessary, disagreements arose over the absence of a common definition of rape. Despite challenges, the law represents a significant step forward in addressing violence against women within the EU.

Ana Redondo, Spain’s equality minister, acknowledged the legislation’s importance as a starting point in the fight against gender-based violence. As the EU prepares for implementation, focus shifts towards effective enforcement and support mechanisms to uphold women’s rights and safety across the continent.