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European Parliament DocumentsResolution on Violence against Women

source: European Parliament

Doc. A2-44/86

OJ. C. 176, 14 July 86, p. 73-83

The European Parliament,

having regard to Articles 100 and 235 of the EEC Treaty

having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, notably Articles 3 and 8 thereof

having regard to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, notably Articles 7 and 17 thereof

having regard to the UN Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.

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having regard to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, notably Article 8 (a) thereof.

having regard to the work of the Council of Europe concerning in-family violence.

having regard to its resolution on the position of women in the European Community of 11 February 1981(OJ No C 50, 9.3.1981, p.35)

having regard to its resolution on the situation of women in Europe of 17 January 1984 (OJ No. C 46, 20.2.1984, p.42)

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having regard to the motion for a resolution by Mrs Llorca Vilaplana on adoption of teaching methods designed to ensure the development of relations between men and women (Doc. B-2-1506/85)

having regard to the report of the Committee on Women's Rights and the opinion of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Citizen's Rights (Doc. A2-44/86)

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General considerations

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2. Further calls for the organization of information campaigns in the Member States on the basis of the statistics and data thus compiled, in order to awaken public awareness to the existence and extent of violence against women, and to adequately publicize the bodies available to assist victims of such violence, so that people who witness evidence of such acts of violence will realize the importance of reporting these acts and know where to address themselves in order to do so;

3. Calls also for a sexual information campaign to be mounted in the Member States, making use of existing structures geared to providing information on sex and birth control;

Sexual violence

4. Calls for the review of the legal distinction between rape and indecent assault, the effects of which may be just as disturbing to the victim involved;

5. Calls for a revision, where necessary, of the law on sexual assault to ensure that the admissibility of evidence has shown to lead to implementation which is prejudicial to the prosecution's case;

6. Calls for a revision, where necessary, of the law on sexual assault to ensure that the admissibility of evidence relating to the victim's sexual past is subject to the most stringent controls;

7. Calls for extensive education of the judiciary/legal profession on sexual violence with the aim of eradicating sexist and out-dated attitudes which research has shown still prevail within the profession often to the detriment of the victim of such violence;

8. Wishes countries where indecent assault and rape are defined in a law as offences against chastity to alter their legislation and redefine both offences as violence against the person, thus precluding any reference to the morals and past life of the victims of such acts; considers that such allegations should not in any case provide evidence to excuse those committing such offences;

9. Proposes that the separate legislation of offences against morality should be abolished and the various forms of sexual violence should be included in other paragraphs of the Penal or Civil Codes;

10. Calls for the legal recognition, in those countries where such is not yet the case, of rape within the marriage, and further calls for the same treatment by the law of forced sexual acts, within and without marriage;

11. Calls for sexual violence, whether individual or group violence, to be considered a crime for which proceedings may be brought in all cases, not only by the injured party, but also by the public authorities: and further calls for women's associations and movements to be allowed to bring civil actions for damages in proceedings for sexual violence, if the injured party so requests.

12. Calls urgently for the extension of the concept of non-discrimination in the relevant legislation or legislative provisions in order to cover both discrimination on the basis of sex or marital status and discrimination on the basis of sexual preference;

13. Calls on national authorities to ensure improvements in training of police officers dealing with notifications and reports of sexual violence so that the victims of such violence receive serious hearing, and further calls for greater co-operation between the police, the legal profession, doctors, psychologists, authorities and voluntary bodies dealing with victims of such attacks and for joint guidelines to be drawn up for appropriate supportive measures, such as training, reception facilities and co-operation to be based on the following principles.

Basic and further training for the police concentrating on attitudes with regard to sexuality and the treatment of the victims of sexual crimes, in particular where women are the victims. The police must be required to respond actively when requests of help are received. Sexist attitudes must be eliminated during training: sexism within the police force (sexist attitudes to women police officers, nude pictures on walls of police interviewing rooms, and discriminatory remarks on lesbian women and prostitutes) should be highlighted and vigorously combatted.

In each division or unit one or more police officers must be responsible for dealing with sexual offences. When insufficient staff are available, it should be possible to call on specially trained officers from other units.

The basic rule should be that the report of a sexual offence should be taken by a specialist women police officer; the victim who comes to report an offence should be informed that she may be interviewed by a woman official, unless she expresses a preference for being interviewed by a male police officer.

Women from minority groups, whose religious or cultural traditions do not permit them to meet and/or talk with men, should be enabled to make such notifications or reports during interviews with women interpreters and specially trained women officers.

Acceptance of a request by the victim for a trusted person of her choice to be present at the interview.

An information brochure should be given to women who come to report offences, covering legal proceedings, medical and health aspects, and agencies such as Rape Crisis Centre...

If there is sexual relationship between the offender and the victim, the police officer to whom the report of the offence is made should provide the woman with proper information at the outset on the significance of criminal proceedings for the offender; it should then be ascertained whether the woman wants criminal proceedings to bet taken against the offender, so that the public prosecutor is aware of the situation; the woman may not, however, be pressurized into withdrawing her charges.

The officer in charge of the case should keep the victim informed of the progress made in the inquiry. As soon as criminal proceedings are initiated this should be the task of the Public Prosecutor.

Police officers responsible for dealing with sexual offences should have a permanent link with a medical service or hospital. To ensure close co-operation between the police, possibly a medical service or hospital and other welfare organizations and women's aid groups, specific people within the police force must be responsible for maintaining contacts with such organizations;

In order to avoid difficulties at work and in the private life of victims of sexual violence, it should be possible, if they so request, to limit to a minimum publicity concerning investigation of the case;

14. With regard to the registration and filing of complaints from women victims of violence, calls on police authorities to ensure the separate registration and filing of notifications and reports, so that , while still forming part of overall crime statistics, the full dimension of violence against women may be as apparent as possible in police records; and calls for more detailed medical and psychological assessments of sex offenders before they are released from prison or centre of detention in order to diminish the possibility of them committing subsequent attacks;

15. Given that policies dealing with sexual violence must be based on sound research and given the lack of empirical data in Western Europe on sexual abuse - calls for Member States and the EEC Commission to finance the gathering of such data/research;

16 Deplores the attitude of certain judges who belittle and demean rape and indecent assault victims by implying that they have in some ways encouraged their attacker or by giving very lenient or suspended sentences even in cases where the defendant has admitted guilt;

17. Calls for measures in the field of planning, housing and public transport , e.g. well-lit public spaces, which increase general safety and thus benefit women and the elderly in particular and the establishment of a dense network of cheap, round-the-clock public transport, including in particular funding of night taxis that can be used by women at night for the same fares as public transport; pilot schemes in the Federal Republic of Germany have demonstrated the urgent need for a flexible and safe mode of this kind.

18. Calls for further research throughout the Community into measures available to deal with violence against women, notably into the effect of the introduction of civil proceedings as a means of preventing further violence.

Violence in the private sphere

19. Calls on the national authorities to initiate training programmes for all those whose professional activities may bring them into contact with victims of violence in the home (teachers, social workers, in the medical and para-medical fields, police) with a view to helping them recognize the signs of such violence, and calls for the setting-up of appropriate networks through which all parties involved may usefully pool information and experiences so that solutions to individual cases may be found as quickly as possible.

20. Calls on national authorities to make legislative and financial provision for personal counselling and help to be available from qualified staff in women’s refuges.

21 Considers that, in order to protect the victim’s feelings there must be the possibility of making sworn statements to the examining magistrate, and calls for all appropriate measures to be taken to ensure that the victim is protected (questioning in private etc.).

22 Considers that the police and public prosecutor must draw the victim’s attention to civil law procedures.

23 Recommends that special financial aid should be available for women in a situation of economic dependence to enable them to have legal aid, in particular the services of a lawyer of their choice if legal proceedings are started. Only in this way can an end be put to the socio-economic disadvantages of women as regards, on the one hand, their right to defence and, on the other, any dissuasive pressures from their family or circle.

24 (a) Calls on the national governments to provide an allocation of funds, or increased financial support for reception facilities for victims of in-family and sexual violence.

(b) notes that women from minority groups (migrant women, wives of migrant workers...) feel particularly vulnerable when victims of such violence and calls for the creation and publicizing of separate reception facilities where such women can be advised in their own language.

( c) calls for the creation of national budgetary lines designed to finance the work of women’s self-defence and self-help groups where women may be enabled to become more confident and self-reliant.

(d) calls for special telephone numbers to be introduced where they do not already exist, and to be made generally available, so that anonymity can be guaranteed if so desired, including for possible witnesses.

(e) calls for aid to lesbian self-help groups, given that lesbian women are often the victims of male violence and aggression.

25. Calls on national and local housing authorities to ensure increased availability of short-term refuges for periods possibly as short as one or two nights, for women and children who need a place to go for a brief time.

26 With regard to the availability of refuges, calls on housing authorities to regognize:

the necessity of providing adequate refuge provision, at the rate of one family place per 10 000 of population,

that refuges constitute temporary emergency accommodation and should not be classified as "permanent accommodation"

the right of all battered women to permanent rehousing, in good standard accommodation, when they feel ready to leave the protection of a refuge,

the right of women to return to their own home without the presence of a violent spouse,

the necessity for the implementation of measures, in particular civil law, to ensure that any material disadvantage are borne by the author of the violence,

the need to provide care and assistance for all battered women, regardless of their marital status or whether or not they have children,

the right of the children of these mothers to be accommodated within the education system and given the care necessary to overcome their emotional problems,

the necessity of providing information to women on their housing rights and the provision of refuges in their area.

27. Calls for the adequate information of women concerning their rights – in particular as regards civil law – and advising them on possible action when faced with violence (addresses and telephone numbers of aid agencies etc.); considers that such information in order to reach the widest number of women, should be made available through hospitals, doctors’ waiting rooms, perinatal services and the local media;

28 Deplores the situation whereby many women must return to violent husbands because of their economically dependent status and incapacity to provide homes for themselves and their children; hopes that possibilities will be considered for a simplified and rapid procedure under which the husband is obliged, once acts of violence have been established and a complaint registered, to pay provisional alimony forthwith to his wife and children, pending the subsequent ruling in the normal divorce proceedings; in this context reiterates its request for a study into the economic and social value of work in the home; points out emphatically in this connection a woman’s right to her own income, which must guarantee that financial dependence is no longer a reason for a woman to return to her husband;

29. Requests that these women, particularly when they have children in their charge, be given special treatment in vocational training programmes and that positive measures be taken as a matter of urgency to integrate them in the labour market.

30 Reiterates its recommendations concerning the availability of reliable methods of contraception and calls for renewed efforts to ensure the widest level of information and understanding of these methods, so that children may be desired and come into homes where they are truly welcome.

31 Stresses the importance of taking initiatives and creating structures to promote the availability of contraception, birth control and sexual information.

Sexual abuse of children

32. Calls for information of the general public on the widest basis possible of the long-term effects of sexual abuse of children so that witnesses of such abuse may be fully aware of their moral responsibility to intervene and inform the relevant social and medical authorities.

33 (a) Calls for information to be made available from primary school level onwards on the various types of abuse to which children may fall victim and for such information to draw their attention to the help they can receive from doctors if they suffer any form of abuse, and considers that, where they do not yet exist, regular medical examinations should be introduced for schoolchildren,

(b) Considers that information concerning sexual violence should be given in schools at all levels within the broader framework of sexual education; in this connection, considers that the availability and adequate publicity of a children’s telephone is an effective means of assistance to children suffering from sexual abuse, and calls for the introduction of a single telephone number common to all Member States of the Community, which children will find advertised in their schools,

(c) highlights the particular problems surrounding minors who may, when victims of abuse, leave home, running the risk of prostitution and/or involvement with drugs, and calls for information concerning financial support, within the framework of suitable measures, for refuges for such children and, where appropriate, self-help groups.

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35. Feels strongly that where a parent or guardian has been convicted of sexual abuse of a child in his/her care, he/she should be deprived immediately of parental rights over that child or any other children in his/her care; the attacker should be required to leave the place where the children are living, pending a viable solution; at worst, where the individual concerned refuses to leave the house, calls for the children to be cared for in specialist centres.

36. Calls on those Member States who have not yet done so to sign and ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

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Recommendations for action in the educational field

66. Recommends the introduction of courses to prepare children and young peoples for adult life, and continuous monitoring of the implementation of these programmes, covering the following aspects:

the development of a feeling of respect for human life and dignity as a structural element in relations between the sexes;

the implementation of an educational programme through the use of films and discussions at schools and in the workplace to help girls and women to identify and define threatening situations and how to handle them;

special defence courses for girls at schools;

general "skills for living" courses so that young people of both sexes are equally prepared for the practicalities of domestic life, as well as economic independence;

preparation for adult relationships trough a proper understanding of the sexes by each other based on the fundamental acceptance of the equality of all individuals, with a view to creating a feeling of mutual responsibility and respect between individuals;

adequate sex education, covering biological, physiological, cultural and philosophical aspects, so that young people are fully aware of their procreative capacity and how to control it, as well as the complementarity of the sexes as partners in the procreative function, and the consequent responsibility of both partners;

preparations for living as a couple and parenthood with a full understanding of the emotional, affective and practical consequences of the arrival of children and an acceptance of the sharing inherent for parents, and

greater urgency in the elimination of sex-stereotyping from school-books so that perception of the respective social roles of women and men is not biased.

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