Violence against women (VAW) is a human rights violation that occurs on a large scale and has many damaging consequences for both the victim and society itself. The European Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention) came into effect on 1 March 2016. The Dutch government has therefore assumed its responsibility not only to oppose this violence through policy and legislation but also to prevent it. Reliable facts and The Violence against women research report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) was published in 2014. It has provided the first representative figures on the nature and extent of violence against women throughout the European Union. In its Violence against women; European Union survey results in the Dutch context, Atria has listed all the most important European research figures and compared them with, for instance, Dutch research data. The Violence against women research report comprises the most recent research and offers a current overview of the nature and extent of violence against women.
Summary of the key findings
In the FRA’s research, 42,000 women were interviewed in all the EU member states. This included 1,500 Dutch women. Hence, it offers a representative reflection of the experiences of the population aged between 18 and 74.
Some notable results for the Netherlands:
- 45% of all women had experienced physical and/or sexual violence at some point in their lives;
- Almost three-quarters (73%) had been sexually harassed;
- One in ten women had been raped at some point in their lives.
Comparatively, the home environment appears to be the most dangerous place for women and girls. In many cases, the perpetrators of violence against women are either the partner, the ex-partner or some other family member or friend who is known to them.
- One in five women had been physically abused by a partner or ex-partner at some point in her life;
- 11% of the women had experienced sexual violence where the perpetrator was a partner or ex-partner;
- 3% of the women had avoided their own home over the last year due to the fear of violence;
- In most cases the perpetrator was a man.
- One in four women had experienced stalking;
- In most cases the stalker was someone they knew, and frequently a partner or ex-partner.
The increasing use of the Internet and social media has led to new forms of violence and threats. Young women are particularly at risk of cyber violence.
- One in three young women (aged between 18 and 29) had experienced some form of cyber bullying.
The extent and severity of violence against women in the Netherlands indicate a major social problem with implications for the fields of safety, public order and public health. Violence against women is linked to the discrepancy between men and women’s social position, the related stereotyping and a tenacious social and cultural legitimatisation of violence. In other words: a gender-sensitive approach is needed so as to prevent and combat violence against women.