Précédente Accueil Remonter Suivante

Back Next    en - EuroWRC

Anna Diamantopoulou : 
"Violence against women is a criminal act" 


(20/11/00) Maj Britt Theorin, Chair of the Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities Committee of the EP, Nicole Péry, Secretary of State for Gender Equality, and Anna Diamantopoulou, European Commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs, launched this week a 'White Ribbon' Campaign aimed at all prime minsters and members of parliament in the EU in order to bring the crime of violence against women into the open. 

In order to break the silence surrounding violence against women, European prime ministers and members of parliament will be invited to wear a white ribbon, symbolising their determination to draw public attention to this crime, starting from 25 November, the International Day against Violence against Women. 

The 'White Ribbon' Campaign originated in 1991 as a reaction by Canadian men to the killing of 14 women students at the University of Montreal. A number of NGOs and other organisations have since taken up the cause. In Europe, the white ribbon motif is known in Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Spain and Sweden but little elsewhere. 

Unit for Equal Opportunities for women and men 

In response to the 1997 European Parliament resolution on the need to establish a European Union wide campaign for zero tolerance of violence against women, the European Commission has been conducting in 1999/2000 a European campaign to raise awareness on violence against women. The campaign is intended to promote increased awareness among European citizens of violence against women, with particular emphasis on domestic violence.

This campaign fits into the follow-up to the 1995 Beijing platform and demonstrates the Commission's resolve and commitment to integrate the gender dimension in all its policies. The Commission likewise  undertakes specific programmes to tackle the problem of violence (DAPHNE, STOP).

The campaign is buildt on the EU's fundamental commitment to defend women's rights as human rights and endeavoures to stem violent behaviour. The campaign put across the following messages:

"elimination of all forms of violence, including domestic violence, is an absolute priority"

"zero tolerance of violence against women"

The Commission has carried out a range of initiatives, including the dissemination of the findings of studies and research conducted in the Member States, in order to get these messages across effectively. In this context, the former Commissioner Anita Gradin presented on 14 July 1999 the Eurobarometer n°51.0 on "Europeans and their views on domestic violence against women".

To have the broadest possible impact on European citizens, the campaign has encompassed radio and television advertising. Slogans and relevant messages have also been dispersed via the Internet. Additional materials, such as posters and brochures, have been circulating through the relevant national Ministries, local authorities and NGOs as well as the Commission information networks and the Commission offices in the Member States (partner organisations).

A European interministerial conference on violence against women was held in Cologne in March 1999 (recommendations), under the German Council Presidency, an expert meeting on violence against women was organised by the Finish Presidency in Jyväskylä in November 1999 (press release, recommendations) and the closing conference took place in May 2000 in Lisbon under the Portuguese Council Presidency (press release, study in PDF format)


Domestic violence exists in all countries and across all social classes. It may be something that happens behind closed doors, but it is clearly a problem for society as a whole. 

The European campaign to prevent violence against women underlined the political will of the Union to curb this sad phenomenon and to bring it out of the closed family environment. The following statistics serve to illustrate the scale of the problem: 

  • in the EU, one woman in five has at least once in her life been the victim of violence by her male partner; 
  • 25% of all violent crimes reported involve a man assaulting his wife or partner. 

Every year, thousands of women and children leave their homes because they are victims of abuse. 

These terrible statistics make it all the more urgent that action is taken. 

Various measures have been taken by the Member States: some EU countries have created 'helplines' to aid the victims, others have organised national awareness campaigns. 

The European campaign to prevent domestic violence against women will support and add to these measures. The European Commission, in collaboration with NGOs, is supporting a series of initiatives on the ground with the aim of contributing to a change in attitudes. 

At the European level, the campaign is designed to reinforce the message that violence against women is a social phenomenon that involves not only victims and abusers, but also all those who witness abuse, including the police, the judiciary, the teaching profession whose role it is to promote non-violence, and the social and medical workers involved in coping with the consequences of violent acts. 

The Commission has formulated several messages, addressed to the different target groups concerned: 

 For male abusers, the messages are:   

  • domestic violence is a crime; 
  • domestic violence will ruin your life as an abuser as much as the life of your victim, and; 
  • help exists if you want to put an end to your violent behaviour. 

For women victims of violence, the messages are:   

  • break the wall of silence surrounding domestic violence! 
  • don't tolerate violence! 
  • help exists, find out how! 

For all those who witness domestic violence, the messages are:   

  • help women victims of violence break the silence 
  • help them escape from victimisation.