Key to Europe

By Antonia von Richthofen, Policy Officer, Equal Rights Working Group

and María de la Torre, Policy Officer on Gender Equality


On this day, November 25th, we call upon all AEGEEans to stand up for the elimination of violence against women and girls. For many of us it might come to a surprise, that this issue is still that alarming. Watching the statistics however, we will notice that a very high amount of women still suffer from abuse, harassment and physical as well as psychological violence against them.


A study by the FRA (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, see source below), where 42,000 women between 18 and 74 years were interviewed across the EU, showed some truly alarming facts. Out of these women 33% reported that they had experienced physical or sexual violence in their life. Even as much as 8% of these women also protocoled that they had suffered violence during the past 12 months. These numbers are undoubtedly alarming, and must make us wake up once and for all. Violence against women is nothing rare, it happens everywhere and it is very likely that someone from your personal environment, a friend or relative even, has been or will become a victim of violence.


The perpetrators are mostly found in one unexpected place: at the victim’s home. They are mostly male, they are husbands, brothers, fathers, sons and friends of the family. In fact these acts against women and girls are the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violation in our world today. However these crimes often remain unreported. Shame and stigma regularly drive women to not call for help and rather cover up their scars and wounds in order to not bring trouble and misfortune upon their families. These incidents of domestic violence take up a big part of the overall numbers. Half of the above mentioned women who experienced physical or sexual violence during the 12 months before the interview reported that the perpetrator was in fact their current and/or previous partner. And 22% of all women stated they had experienced violence from their partners at some point in their lives. And please remember that the actual number including the unreported incidents most probably is much, much higher.


Another reason why this abuse goes unreported is because men are not held accountable for their actions and victims do not feel protected by law. A clear example of this is the abuse perpetrated by men in positions of power who end up impune, as we can see from celebrities who, in spite of having been accused and proved guilty of abuse and violence against women, still get to appear in films, play in music festivals and continue with their successful careers.


But of course this abuse does not come out of the blue. Physical violence is the most visible part of gender-based discrimination, but before it there are other types of violences that women and young girls suffer everyday. The most dangerous aspect of these microaggressions is that sometimes they are so subtle that they go unnoticed to the point where they become normalized in society. We can find examples of them in everyday language when we call someone a “pussy” or tell them that they do something “like a girl”. Women also tend to be called hysterical and bossy when they stand for their beliefs whereas in men these are the traits of a good leader.


How is it possible that we treat our wives, daughters, sisters and friends this way? How is it possible that gender-based violence tend to affect women in such extreme measures? How is it possible that still, in 2018, some men seemingly only know to express themselves by violating their spouses? How is it possible that violence against women is still such a widespread habit? And how can we justify that from all places it is home, the one place where everyone should feel safe and secure, which some women have to fear the most?


As Equal Rights Working Group of AEGEE-Europe and together with the help of the Gender Equality Interest Group, we are standing up for all victims of sexual, physical or psychological violence. We are calling upon you to be more sensitive, to spot possible abuse, to share your experiences, not to hide and not to be ashamed or afraid, and to stand up for your and everyone’s basic human rights.


Under the hashtag #HearMeToo UNiTE is organizing this year the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign which will cover activities and any other form of participation against gender-based violence until the Human Rights Day, December 10th. If you or your local want to participate, find more info on the link below and share your actions using the hashtags #orangetheworld and #HearMeToo.


Let us raise our voices together to end all violence against women and girls!


??FRA research:


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