Domestic violence - what can be done about it?

For millions of women in Europe their home is a dangerous place. Domestic violence mainly affects women and is prevalent across the social spectrum. Prompted by the latest statistics or International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on 25 November, media in many countries are honing in on the problem.

Open/close all quotes
T24 (TR) /

Equal rights indispendable

Although the Council of Europe's convention for combating violence against women is called the "Istanbul Convention" Turkey hasn't made much progress in the fight against domestic violence, former diplomat Oğuz Demiralp laments on T24:

“Violence against women continues to be a serious problem in our country. According to media reports there was a 25 percent increase in the number of murders of women in 2017: 409 women were murdered and 332 women experienced sexual violence. ... We once tried to establish an equal rights committee in parliament. The committee was formed, but it bore the name 'equal opportunities'. Women and men are very different, not equal, they said. Of course women are not like men and vice versa. Physiologically they are different. But men and women have equal rights before the law.”

Liberal (GR) /

Problem affects the centre of society

The physician and women's rights activist Effi Basdra debunks a few myths in a guest commentary for the daily paper Liberal:

“Greek statistics show that 68 percent of women who are victims of domestic violence are married. ... Seven out of ten such victims graduated from high school and have university degrees, while six out of ten have a moderate to good standard of living. The correlation between domestic violence and low levels of education and a poor financial situation of women is a myth. The same goes for men. ... What's needed is ongoing state support with information to schools, parents, and everyone concerned. That's one side of it. On the other we must break the silence. ... Only when fear and shame have been overcome can women deal with the problem by talking about it.”

Deutschlandfunk (DE) /

We must talk openly about the problem

Almost 140,000 cases of violent acts perpetrated by partners or ex-partners were reported in Germany in 2017, including 147 fatalities. This is a deep-lying problem, Deutschlandfunk concludes:

“It has a lot to do with the fact that we are not a modern society after all. That men still feel their 'honour' has been tarnished when a woman leaves them. That they fear the loss of some outdated claim to power. ... Women also play a part in this, in that they often suffer in silence for understandable reasons until it's too late. And the courts are also to blame. Far too often they are lenient on men because their emotions, their jealousy, are seen as mitigating circumstances. ... This must change - and we should all contribute to that. Talk about it, discuss it publicly, turn the problem into a major issue.”

El Diario de Sevilla (ES) /

Equality from the cradle to the grave

In Spain not only have 959 women died as a result of domestic violence since 2003, children are also often victims - 25 children were killed by their own fathers since 2013. El Diario de Sevilla demands sweeping measures:

“Harassment, abuse, rape, prostitution and trafficking in women aren't even included in these figures - all the things the patriarchate has made normal. How much fear, how much suffering do women go through day after day without us ever learning about it? ... We must do more than hold a minute of silence. Judges must receive special training in gender issues and adequate resources, and society must sign a pact against domestic violence so that from the cradle to the grave equality prevails and there is an end to domestic violence.”

Delfi (LT) /

Lithuanians need help

Delfi laments that Lithuanian society still refuses to deal seriously with the problem of domestic violence:

“In the European Parliament's 2014 report on children's rights, Lithuania was a dark stain in the EU. Eight boys and two girls per 100,000 inhabitants were victims of fatal violence. As far as domestic violence against women and children is concerned Lithuania tops the list in the EU. Whichever way you look at it the fact is that our society has a propensity to violence. There are heaps of dissertations on this subject, but for the most part society rejects this criticism. ... The sober but painful statistics, however, speak for themselves. Unfortunately when it comes to loving our children we are the ones who most need help in Europe.”