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22nd Oct 2021

Violence against women costs EU €290bn a year

  • One-in-three women in the EU aged 15 or over has experienced physical and/or sexual violence (Photo: European Parliament)

The annual cost of gender-based violence against women in the EU has been estimated at €290bn, according to a study by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) on Wednesday (7 July).

Intimate partner violence, which has risen considerably during the pandemic, makes up more than half of the cost of gender violence (at €151bn).

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Gender violence refers to any physical, sexual or psychological harm to women.

These results are around one-third higher than previous estimates - partly due to a higher incidence and a change in the methodology.

One-in-three women in the EU aged 15 or over has experienced physical and/or sexual violence, while 22-percent of female Europeans have experienced violence by an intimate partner.

"Human life, pain and suffering do not have a price. However, knowing the cost of violence can help EU countries channel money to where it's really needed - and where it's most cost-effective," said EIGE's director Carlien Scheele.

The highest cost derives from the reduction in the quality of life of the victim from the physical and emotional harm suffered as a result of the crime (56 percent), followed by criminal justice services (21 percent) and lost economic output (14 percent).

The report shows how violence has a negative effect on the ability of victims to work, which reflects in both their productivity and time taken off from the job.

Other costs include health costs, civil justice services (for example for divorces and child custody proceedings), housing aid and child protection.

In the EU, the cost of gender violence is estimated to be highest in Germany (€54bn), France (€43bn), Italy (€38bn), Spain (€30bn), Poland (€24bn) and Romania (€12bn).

For Scheele, EU countries need to invest more in services and activities that prevent violence against women and protect victims. "This is both a moral imperative, as well as savvy economics," she said.

The cost of gender violence in the EU and member states is based on extrapolated data from the UK, where there is a high availability of data.

To ensure an accurate calculation of the cost of gender-based violence in the EU, EIGE has called on member states to collect data from public services such as law enforcement and the justice sector, together with survey data.

Under the Istanbul Convention, an international treaty protecting women from violence, the collection of detailed data on different forms of gender-based violence is mandatory for all its members.

Every member state has signed it, but Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovakia have still not ratified the convention.

Turkey has now formally withdrawn from the convention. Poland might be the next to do so - especially after prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki said last year that it might not be compatible with the Polish constitution.

Turkey formally exits treaty against gender violence

EU states Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovakia have not ratified the Istanbul Convention on women's rights, while Poland is on course to follow Turkey out of the accord.

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