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One out of five women in Europe 
is a victim of violence

STRASBOURG, 05.03.99 - "According to our studies, one woman out of five within the COUNCIL OF EUROPE member states experiences, during her lifetime, violence in some form, due to her sex. Violence affects women of all age groups, social strata and cultures. 90% of all acts of violence are reportedly committed by members of the family or those close to the victim.

We have a collective responsibility to condemn the use of violence against women and give paramount importance to the safety of victims. Gender violence constitutes a tragic infringement of human rights and dignity. At the dawn of the new millennium, all this violence takes us back to the Stone Age", said Yvette ROUDY, President of the Parliamentary Assembly's Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men on the eve of the International Women's Day on 8 March.

The unanimously adopted "Declaration on zero tolerance of violence against women and girls" by the Committee reads as follows:

"Gender violence is a fundamental violation of the right to life, liberty and security, personal, mental and physical integrity, equal protection before the law, equality within the family, as well as the right not to be subject to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Violence against women, which cannot be excused by any cultural difference, is both a serious obstacle to the achievement of women's equality, and a direct consequence of the inequality which persists throughout Europe. Consequently, the fight to combat violence against women must be achieved by fighting for the equal rights and opportunities for women.

We therefore call for equality to be one of the issues covered by the monitoring of the obligations of Council of Europe member States.

We call for the respect of the Council of Europe's Summit Declaration* and support the European Commission's action programme DAPHNE, designed to combat violence against children, adults and women (in 2000 - 2004). The objectives of this programme must be extended to the whole of the European continent. It is important to provide guidance and standards for relevant national policies to all Council of Europe member states".

* At the October 1997 Council of Europe Summit , the Heads of State and Government affirmed their determination to combat violence against women and called for continued progress with a view to achieving effective equality of opportunities between men and women.

A political organisation set up in 1949, the Council of Europe promotes democracy and human rights continent-wide. It also develops common responses to social, cultural and legal challenges in its 40 member states.

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