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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:
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.
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)
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:
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: