Violence against women and domestic violence — 6 ways our new proposal will make a difference

1. Uniform, consent-based definitions of rape

Violence against women, and domestic violence, are criminalised in different ways across the EU. For example, in 18 EU countries, criminal responsibility for rape is currently linked to the use of force or threats. Our proposal would introduce common definitions of rape, based simply on lack of consent.

2. Criminalisation of cybercrimes

Non-consensual sharing of intimate images and cyber stalking will be made criminal offences. Victims will be entitled to adequate support, including advice on how to seek legal help, and how to remove content.

3. Safer reporting procedures

Violence against women and domestic violence are underreported crimes, for many reasons. To make the process less uncomfortable for victims and witnesses, our proposal introduces new ways to report incidents, which are gender-sensitive, safer, easier, more accessible — including online — and child-friendly.

4. Risk assessments for offenders

Authorities would be obliged to conduct individual risk assessments when the victim first makes contact, to assess the risk posed by the offender — including the likelihood of repeat violence, bodily harm or the use of weapons. Where the assessment says it is needed, authorities would need to ensure the victim is legally protected with emergency barring and protection orders. For example, the order could be to remove an attacker from the victim’s home and stop them returning, or give a legal order to stop an abuser texting the victim.

5. Respect for the victim’s privacy

To avoid triggering negative experiences in the form of intrusive questioning, we are proposing that evidence or questions relating to the victim’s private life, especially their sexual history and conduct, can only be used when strictly necessary.

6. Clarity around compensation

Victims would have the right to claim full compensation from offenders for damages, including the costs of healthcare, support services, rehabilitation, lost income, physical and psychological harm and reputational damage. Victims would be able to file a complaint up to 5 years later, and 10 years later in the case of sexual violence. Dated from when the victim knows about the offence, not from when it happens (this can be different, for example when images are shared without consent).

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