Europe is only paying lip service to tackling violence against women says Madi Sharma; member of the Employer’s Group of the European Economic and Social Committee. “It’s time for change and it’s time for change now”, Sharma was speaking at the Zero Tolerance on Domestic Violence Conference.
Statistics show that in Europe, at least 25% of all women have experienced physical violence at least once during their adult lives.
Policy officer in the European Commission for DG Justice; Ingrid Bellander Todino, said that the European Commission was committed to develop an EU wide strategy to combat violence against women, but that a strategy is not yet on the table.
“I know the limitations on EU action,” she said, but still agreed that the EU is not doing enough.
Todino said that the European Commission’s programme to prevent and combat violence against children, young people and women; DAPHNE, provides funding to grassroots organisations and really makes a difference in protecting victims. But Todino added that funding for the DAPHNE programme ends in 2013 and that the Commission’s new proposal “will probably not include DAPHNE.” She stressed that there must be a public mandate to act in this area.
Sharma agreed saying, “In a financial crisis, these are the areas that get cut first.”
Many delegates argued that social organisations must lobby politicians to act in favor of DAPHNE funding. Dr. Elke Lujansky-Lammer of Equality Body, Austria said, “Many policy makers think it’s a private problem in the relationship. We need training for the decision makers.”
The UK leads the EU in the area of domestic violence legislation. Anthony Wills; director of Standing Together Against Domestic Violence and former chief superintendent in the Metropolitan Police, said that ending violence against women is “crucially important to the health of society.”
Wills stressed the importance of a coordinated effort between local authorities, national government and local communities.
“There will never be enough NGOs to deal with domestic violence,” he said. “The state has to make a statement that this is wrong. The public sector must be responsible.”
Johanna Nelles of the Council of Europe a detailed the recent Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women . She emphasised the importance of EU member states to ratify the Convention.
All the presenters agreed that investing in domestic violence prevention was good for the budget. “Invest €1 and save €6,” Wills said. The costs associated with the treatment of victims far outweigh the costs of prevention.