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16th Jan 2022

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Renew Europe has a plan to combat gender-violence

  • Dutch MEP Samira Rafaela: 'We in Renew Europe want to move further, and push for a systemic approach to protecting women from violence' (Photo: European Parliament)

A society is only strong when it succeeds in protecting those who need it most.

All too often, women are still the victims of domestic violence. We've seen it in the quarantine period, where violence within families rose dramatically – by an estimated 60 percent.

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We see it now in Poland, where a political agenda is aggressively pursued to the detriment of women. We see attempts being made to suppress women's rights and independence all across the world, both in developing and developed countries.

But we also see the unmistakable signs pointing the other way: where women and girls are empowered, society as a whole thrives. That is precisely what some in power are afraid of!

The European Union stands for human rights, gender equality and equal opportunities. We need to use the EU to stand up for the protection of women.

That is why the decision of the Polish government to leave the Istanbul Convention matters so much.

The EU and all of its member states signed up to the convention, as it is a logical and necessary corollary of European values, a way of putting them firmly into practice.

Six countries have not ratified it yet, and the EU as such has yet to accede.

This is not about supposedly traditional values – when was violence against women ever a value? – it is about living up to the European values we all signed up to. We have to put pressure on Poland to keep its commitments.

This should be a part of the conditionality attached to the MFF and the recovery fund.

You can't have all the benefits of European integration while undermining European values.

We want the European Council to move ahead without further delay in ratifying the convention. This would send a strong signal of Europe's continued engagement.

We of Renew Europe want to move further, and push for a systemic approach to protecting women from violence.

We have proposed an EU protocol to prevent violence against women and girls in emergency situations, like the confinement we've seen recently, and to support victims.

A lot can be done to improve support services, such as shelters and safe accommodation, to spread information on rights and legal support, to install hotlines for victims to turn to, or to inform them of code signals that make it easier for them to cry out when necessary.

These women need our help. Their safety is the surest sign of European values in real life: When they suffer, we fail. When they thrive, we win.

Author bio

Samira Rafaela is an MEP for the Dutch social-liberal political party D66, part of the Renew Europe group.

Disclaimer

This article is sponsored by a third party. All opinions in this article reflect the views of the author and not of EUobserver.

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