Commission wants EU governments to be tougher on violence against women – POLITICO

The European Commission will present a proposal to push EU countries to implement tougher rules to combat violence against women – the first proposal of its kind by the EU executive body, to be made public. on Tuesday on International Women’s Day.

Under criminal law, a draft proposal, released by POLITICO, would require all member states to classify any unprovoked sexual act as rape under criminal law, as well as criminal decriminalization of female genital mutilation, internet use and gratuitous harassment and sharing of intimate images, known as revenge porn.

“Given the way in which violence against women and domestic violence has evolved over the past decades, these types of crimes are unlikely to be significantly reduced without additional EU action,” the draft states. clear.

The proposal comes after the EU has struggled for years to get all members to fully join the 2011 Istanbul Convention – a 25-page international treaty aimed at reducing violence against women across Europe. Europe. While 45 countries have signed on to the legally binding document, several EU countries including Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia and Slovakia have refused to translate their provisions into law, citing the semantic dispute over the precise definition of “gender.” Poland’s right-wing government also said it was planning to leave the congress.

This resistance has led the EU as a whole to not adopt global minimum standards on rape, female genital mutilation and forced marriage, and move forward with more ambitious legislation for a single region. the region regularly upholds the values ​​of the convention.

“We must resolutely respond to the increase in violence witnessed over the years,” Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli said in a statement. “This proposal is a good step towards comprehensive legislation on violence against women across the European Union.”

Five years after the #MeToo movement helped raise awareness of the prevalence of sexual violence against women, the Commission bill states that “many Member States still require the use of force, threatening threat or coercion” for an act that is considered and punishable as rape under criminal law.

EU-wide minimum rules will ensure fairer and more effective mechanisms for victims to report crimes and get support. The Commission also wants more training for the executive and judicial agencies.

“Without prejudice to the right to defence, questions, queries, and evidence regarding a victim’s past sexual behavior should not be allowed in criminal investigations and court proceedings,” the project said. the draft stated.

Online violence is on the rise

The law will also aim to address modern and growing issues such as online surveillance of women by abusive partners and social media threats, with many victims saying they feel powerless to do so. prevent or report such incidents.

“Online violence and cyberbullying are on the rise, specifically targeting women in public life, such as journalists and politicians. This is unacceptable in modern Europe. And this is why we are taking action,” European Commission Vice President for Values ​​and Transparency Věra Jourová said in a statement.

The Commission wants to criminalize the use of the network, which is defined as persistent intimidation and intimidation or continuous monitoring to monitor someone’s activity, including through spying on messaging platforms. news and social media, hack their devices, or install geolocation apps.

Organized group attacks against an individual on social media will also be limited.

“Such widespread attacks, including coordinated attacks by online mobs, can morph into offline attacks or cause significant psychological harm and, in extreme cases, lead to the victim’s suicide,” the document stated.

The gratuitous sharing of photos, videos and audio clips, as well as so-called deepfakes – when someone’s appearance has been edited or manipulated to appear authentic – of someone Performing an intimate act can also lead to planned criminal charges.

National authorities will be empowered to order social media, pornographic sites, cloud services or other platforms to take down such material. The EU’s proposed content moderation bill, known as the Digital Services Act, would similarly authorize national authorities to take such actions.

The text says that although such offenses “disproportionately affect women”, the new measures should be able to protect all victims.

Member States and Parliament will still have to negotiate and pass the Commission’s proposed legislation before any measure must be transmuted into domestic law.

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