STRASBOURG, 03.04.2000 - European parliamentarians today pledged action to
stem the tide of violence against women and called for an end to the use of
rape as a weapon of war.
They were debating two reports from the Equal Opportunities Committee
- Violence against women in Europe and Rape in armed conflicts.
Europe needs a programme to combat violence, with marital rape
criminalised and tougher laws to protect women from violent
husbands, urged the Assembly.
Report author Ruth-Gaby Vermot-Mangold (Switzerland, Soc) revealed that
violence was a frightening reality for women, with one in five suffering every
day, and domestic violence killing or seriously injuring more women every year
than cancer or road accidents. She condemned prevailing values in
society which put men above women and led to abuses from rape, through genital
mutilation, to sex trafficking and domestic slavery. Member states should do
their utmost to turn the tide by ratifying and putting into
practice international treaties, working to raise awareness amongst police
officers and judges, and setting up centres for victims, she said.
Rodica-Mihaela Stanoiu (Romania, Soc) ran through the catalogue of recent
conflicts to show that rape was still being used as a weapon of war. It
took the form of gang rape, forced prostitution and pregnancy, sexual slavery,
torture and sexual abuse and was used to intentional political purpose.
Women raped during wartime were victims several times over, she said. Yet
the crime went largely unpunished. Various international laws existed, but
were not put into practice. To bridge the gap, Council of Europe member states
should ratify the treaty setting up the International Criminal Court urgently,
The Assembly backed her calls for member states to criminalise rape
in wartime, to grant raped women the right to terminate pregnancy and to
give them full support in the courts and social and psychological back-up
from specially trained staff.