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Joint civil society reaction to the adoption of the EU Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence

Today, the Council of the EU officially adopted the EU Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence.

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Safe From Harm
media center

| 07 May 2024

Joint civil society reaction to the adoption of the EU Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence

Today, the Council of the EU officially adopted the EU Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence. As 13 civil society organisations which advocate for human rights, gender equality, and the right for all to live free from violence, we welcome this first ever binding EU legislation on this issue as a groundbreaking step. The Directive adopts a holistic approach to combat violence against women and domestic violence, incorporating measures relating to prevention, protection, support for victims, access to justice and prosecution of perpetrators. This achievement is the result of long-term advocacy by feminist movements and Members of the European Parliament championing the European Commission’s ambitious proposal. We extend our gratitude to everyone involved in making this Directive as strong as possible. We applaud the fact that the Directive recognizes the perpetration of female genital mutilation, forced marriage and certain forms of online violence as crimes. Unfortunately, other forms of violence were ultimately not criminalised, including intersex genital mutilation and forced sterilisation. We deeply regret that some Member States managed to derail the unprecedented opportunity to criminalise rape with a consent-based definition at the EU level. Sexual violence against women is endemic across the EU, with widespread impunity. Consent-based definitions of rape allow for all cases of rape to be included and strengthen protection and access to justice for victims of rape. We continue to call on all Member States who have not yet done so, to move towards adopting consent-based laws. Crucially, the Directive will require Member States to do more to prevent rape, by raising public awareness of the fact that sex without consent is a crime, through awareness raising programmes and educational materials. We encourage Member States to embrace the comprehensive prevention approach outlined in the Directive, in particular primary prevention initiatives, and to provide mandatory comprehensive sexuality education, which includes consent education and challenges harmful gender norms. The Directive further guarantees comprehensive support to victims of violence against women and girls and domestic violence and access to both general and specialist support services, shelters, support for child victims, as well as access to comprehensive medical care including sexual and reproductive health services. This is the first time that EU law imposes explicit obligations on Member States to provide access to this essential medical care for victims of sexual violence. Member States will also have to provide training for professionals likely to come into contact with victims, on how to provide this support. The Directive recognises that victims of violence against women and domestic violence who experience intersectional discrimination are at a heightened risk of violence, and obliges Member States to meet their specific needs. Targeting a public figure, a human rights defender, or someone for their personal characteristics will constitute an aggravating circumstance. In the implementation of the Directive, Member States must ensure that all victims and survivors of gender-based violence are protected, no matter their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics. However, EU lawmakers yet again silenced women impacted by EU migration policies. The only concrete step forward for migrant women is that the text requires Member States to make shelters available to all women experiencing domestic abuse, regardless of their residence status. Nonetheless we condemn that the final text does not retain provisions on protecting undocumented women's personal data from being transmitted to immigration authorities (neither in the context of accessing shelters, nor in terms of accessing justice). Member States must ensure that women are not deterred from going to the police because of their residence status, by including access to safe reporting in the ongoing revision of the Victims’ Rights Directive. We call on the European Commission to provide guidelines and training to Member States, based on international standards and in consultation with civil society organisations. We urge Member States to fully implement the Directive as soon as possible. Recalling that the Directive sets minimum standards, we call on Member States to go beyond these and to realise the highest standards across the EU. We call on the European Commission to review the Directive in the next five years and to work towards comprehensive and inclusive measures to address all forms of sexual and gender-based violence without discrimination. We, together with our members across Europe, are committed to providing our expertise, and look forward to supporting a strong implementation of the Directive, to progress towards a Europe where everyone is safe from gender-based violence.   Signatories: Amnesty International Center for Reproductive Rights EL*C - Eurocentralasian Lesbian* Community End FGM European Network  European Sex Workers Rights Alliance Human Rights Watch ILGA-Europe (The European region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN) La Strada International Organisation Intersex International Europe (OII Europe) Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) TGEU (Trans Europe and Central Asia) Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE)   Notes Throughout this statement, the term “women” should be understood as including “women and girls”, as in the definition of “violence against women” proposed by the European Commission in the Directive, which encompasses “violence directed against a woman or a girl”. Amnesty International, Center for Reproductive Rights, EuroCentralAsian Lesbian* Community (EL*C), End FGM European Network, European Sex Workers’ Rights Alliance (ESWA), Human Rights Watch, ILGA-Europe (The European region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association), International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN), La Strada International, Organisation Intersex International Europe (OII Europe), Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), TGEU (Trans Europe and Central Asia), Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE). Our organisations work on a diverse range of women's rights issues. In the drafting of this document, we have been led by the expertise of women’s rights organisations and women human rights defenders from communities most impacted by the specific forms of violence described in each section. Our commitment to the text below represents our coming together as a collective with shared values, even though not every organisation has its own policy or programme of work dedicated to each issue. For more information, see a joint civil society statement on the revision of the Victims’ Rights Directive, signed by some of our organisations who are advocating for victims’ rights.  

Safe From Harm
media_center

| 07 May 2024

Joint civil society reaction to the adoption of the EU Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence

Today, the Council of the EU officially adopted the EU Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence. As 13 civil society organisations which advocate for human rights, gender equality, and the right for all to live free from violence, we welcome this first ever binding EU legislation on this issue as a groundbreaking step. The Directive adopts a holistic approach to combat violence against women and domestic violence, incorporating measures relating to prevention, protection, support for victims, access to justice and prosecution of perpetrators. This achievement is the result of long-term advocacy by feminist movements and Members of the European Parliament championing the European Commission’s ambitious proposal. We extend our gratitude to everyone involved in making this Directive as strong as possible. We applaud the fact that the Directive recognizes the perpetration of female genital mutilation, forced marriage and certain forms of online violence as crimes. Unfortunately, other forms of violence were ultimately not criminalised, including intersex genital mutilation and forced sterilisation. We deeply regret that some Member States managed to derail the unprecedented opportunity to criminalise rape with a consent-based definition at the EU level. Sexual violence against women is endemic across the EU, with widespread impunity. Consent-based definitions of rape allow for all cases of rape to be included and strengthen protection and access to justice for victims of rape. We continue to call on all Member States who have not yet done so, to move towards adopting consent-based laws. Crucially, the Directive will require Member States to do more to prevent rape, by raising public awareness of the fact that sex without consent is a crime, through awareness raising programmes and educational materials. We encourage Member States to embrace the comprehensive prevention approach outlined in the Directive, in particular primary prevention initiatives, and to provide mandatory comprehensive sexuality education, which includes consent education and challenges harmful gender norms. The Directive further guarantees comprehensive support to victims of violence against women and girls and domestic violence and access to both general and specialist support services, shelters, support for child victims, as well as access to comprehensive medical care including sexual and reproductive health services. This is the first time that EU law imposes explicit obligations on Member States to provide access to this essential medical care for victims of sexual violence. Member States will also have to provide training for professionals likely to come into contact with victims, on how to provide this support. The Directive recognises that victims of violence against women and domestic violence who experience intersectional discrimination are at a heightened risk of violence, and obliges Member States to meet their specific needs. Targeting a public figure, a human rights defender, or someone for their personal characteristics will constitute an aggravating circumstance. In the implementation of the Directive, Member States must ensure that all victims and survivors of gender-based violence are protected, no matter their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics. However, EU lawmakers yet again silenced women impacted by EU migration policies. The only concrete step forward for migrant women is that the text requires Member States to make shelters available to all women experiencing domestic abuse, regardless of their residence status. Nonetheless we condemn that the final text does not retain provisions on protecting undocumented women's personal data from being transmitted to immigration authorities (neither in the context of accessing shelters, nor in terms of accessing justice). Member States must ensure that women are not deterred from going to the police because of their residence status, by including access to safe reporting in the ongoing revision of the Victims’ Rights Directive. We call on the European Commission to provide guidelines and training to Member States, based on international standards and in consultation with civil society organisations. We urge Member States to fully implement the Directive as soon as possible. Recalling that the Directive sets minimum standards, we call on Member States to go beyond these and to realise the highest standards across the EU. We call on the European Commission to review the Directive in the next five years and to work towards comprehensive and inclusive measures to address all forms of sexual and gender-based violence without discrimination. We, together with our members across Europe, are committed to providing our expertise, and look forward to supporting a strong implementation of the Directive, to progress towards a Europe where everyone is safe from gender-based violence.   Signatories: Amnesty International Center for Reproductive Rights EL*C - Eurocentralasian Lesbian* Community End FGM European Network  European Sex Workers Rights Alliance Human Rights Watch ILGA-Europe (The European region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN) La Strada International Organisation Intersex International Europe (OII Europe) Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) TGEU (Trans Europe and Central Asia) Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE)   Notes Throughout this statement, the term “women” should be understood as including “women and girls”, as in the definition of “violence against women” proposed by the European Commission in the Directive, which encompasses “violence directed against a woman or a girl”. Amnesty International, Center for Reproductive Rights, EuroCentralAsian Lesbian* Community (EL*C), End FGM European Network, European Sex Workers’ Rights Alliance (ESWA), Human Rights Watch, ILGA-Europe (The European region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association), International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN), La Strada International, Organisation Intersex International Europe (OII Europe), Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), TGEU (Trans Europe and Central Asia), Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE). Our organisations work on a diverse range of women's rights issues. In the drafting of this document, we have been led by the expertise of women’s rights organisations and women human rights defenders from communities most impacted by the specific forms of violence described in each section. Our commitment to the text below represents our coming together as a collective with shared values, even though not every organisation has its own policy or programme of work dedicated to each issue. For more information, see a joint civil society statement on the revision of the Victims’ Rights Directive, signed by some of our organisations who are advocating for victims’ rights.  

Italy flag
media center

| 24 April 2024

Italy’s vote to involve anti-abortion actors in counselling violates women’s rights

IPPF strongly condemns yesterday’s vote in the Italian Senate in favour of involving anti-abortion associations in abortion counselling services, family planning centres (consultori) and hospitals.  The recent adoption of a measure allowing anti-abortion activists to enter abortion consultation clinics in Italy is deeply troubling and represents a significant attack on women’s reproductive rights and bodily autonomy. This move undermines the fundamental right to access safe and legal abortion care. By allowing external interference in such intimate healthcare decisions, the Italian government is reinforcing stigma and harming women. The social and psychological implications of this measure create an atmosphere of intimidation and coercion for women seeking reproductive healthcare services. We must prioritise policies that safeguard fundamental rights and foster inclusivity, rather than catering to narrow agendas that undermine reproductive freedoms and social progress. Furthermore, the allocation of EU funds to support measures restricting access to sexual and reproductive health services, including safe and legal abortion, is deeply concerning and runs counter to the principles of equality and fundamental rights enshrined in EU treaties. We strongly condemn any use of EU funds to fund initiatives that infringe upon individuals’ rights to make autonomous decisions about their bodies and health.  This decision runs counter to the objectives of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. In a recent statement, Veerle Nuyts, European Commission Spokesperson on economic and financial affairs already underlined that the provision concerning abortion does not belong in the Recovery and Resilience Fund. It is alarming that the Italian government is planning to misuse European funds to pay for harmful measures against women.  France has enshrined the right to abortion in its Constitution. The European Parliament voted to include it in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and explicitly asked to stop funding anti-gender and anti-choice organisations, and for Member States and local governments to increase their spending on programmes and subsidies to healthcare and family planning services. With yesterday's vote, Italy has done the opposite, underscoring an assault to the fundamental freedoms of millions of women, who have already been drastically affected by the funding cuts and subsequent closure of many family planning centres. We urge the Italian Government to reconsider its stance and prioritise policies that uphold the rights and dignity of all individuals, including comprehensive access to sexual and reproductive health services without discrimination or interference. We urge the EU to ensure the Italian Government cannot use EU funds to violate fundamental rights.   Photo credit: Emma Fabbri, unsplash

Italy flag
media_center

| 24 April 2024

Italy’s vote to involve anti-abortion actors in counselling violates women’s rights

IPPF strongly condemns yesterday’s vote in the Italian Senate in favour of involving anti-abortion associations in abortion counselling services, family planning centres (consultori) and hospitals.  The recent adoption of a measure allowing anti-abortion activists to enter abortion consultation clinics in Italy is deeply troubling and represents a significant attack on women’s reproductive rights and bodily autonomy. This move undermines the fundamental right to access safe and legal abortion care. By allowing external interference in such intimate healthcare decisions, the Italian government is reinforcing stigma and harming women. The social and psychological implications of this measure create an atmosphere of intimidation and coercion for women seeking reproductive healthcare services. We must prioritise policies that safeguard fundamental rights and foster inclusivity, rather than catering to narrow agendas that undermine reproductive freedoms and social progress. Furthermore, the allocation of EU funds to support measures restricting access to sexual and reproductive health services, including safe and legal abortion, is deeply concerning and runs counter to the principles of equality and fundamental rights enshrined in EU treaties. We strongly condemn any use of EU funds to fund initiatives that infringe upon individuals’ rights to make autonomous decisions about their bodies and health.  This decision runs counter to the objectives of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. In a recent statement, Veerle Nuyts, European Commission Spokesperson on economic and financial affairs already underlined that the provision concerning abortion does not belong in the Recovery and Resilience Fund. It is alarming that the Italian government is planning to misuse European funds to pay for harmful measures against women.  France has enshrined the right to abortion in its Constitution. The European Parliament voted to include it in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and explicitly asked to stop funding anti-gender and anti-choice organisations, and for Member States and local governments to increase their spending on programmes and subsidies to healthcare and family planning services. With yesterday's vote, Italy has done the opposite, underscoring an assault to the fundamental freedoms of millions of women, who have already been drastically affected by the funding cuts and subsequent closure of many family planning centres. We urge the Italian Government to reconsider its stance and prioritise policies that uphold the rights and dignity of all individuals, including comprehensive access to sexual and reproductive health services without discrimination or interference. We urge the EU to ensure the Italian Government cannot use EU funds to violate fundamental rights.   Photo credit: Emma Fabbri, unsplash

Sweden flag
media center

| 17 April 2024

Sweden’s new legal gender recognition law is a vital step in the right direction

IPPF EN welcomes today’s vote by the Swedish Parliament of a new law on legal gender recognition. This replaces a law initially dating from 1972 which, whilst very progressive 50 years ago, was no longer fit for purpose.  The bill adopted today, despite its limitations, contains important measures that will remove some of the obstacles that trans people currently face when they want to change a gender marker in their legal documents to reflect their gender identity. It is positive that the reform will simplify the administrative process and separate it from the process for accessing gender-affirming care. IPPF EN celebrates the adoption of the new law, and pays tribute to the commitment and determination of the trans movement and its allies in securing today’s result. Ulrika Westerlund, Member of Parliament in the Green Party and longstanding champion of trans rights in Sweden, said: “Despite the polarisation and the at times very aggressive and unbalanced debate, the parliament has demonstrated unity between six parties who stand behind this review of the Swedish Legal Gender Recognition law. Today’s vote will not give trans people self-determination of change of legal gender, but the process will be simplified, available to 16-year-olds and not require a diagnosis. We welcome this and look forward to continuing working for additional improvements further on.” “This is a significant step for trans people’s rights in Sweden. But the new legislation remains out of step with that of its Nordic neighbours and the recently-passed German gender recognition law,  fully based on self-determination, which is the gold standard. The fight goes on,” said Micah Grzywnowicz, Regional Director of IPPF EN.   Photo by Ozan Öztaskiran on Unsplash

Sweden flag
media_center

| 17 April 2024

Sweden’s new legal gender recognition law is a vital step in the right direction

IPPF EN welcomes today’s vote by the Swedish Parliament of a new law on legal gender recognition. This replaces a law initially dating from 1972 which, whilst very progressive 50 years ago, was no longer fit for purpose.  The bill adopted today, despite its limitations, contains important measures that will remove some of the obstacles that trans people currently face when they want to change a gender marker in their legal documents to reflect their gender identity. It is positive that the reform will simplify the administrative process and separate it from the process for accessing gender-affirming care. IPPF EN celebrates the adoption of the new law, and pays tribute to the commitment and determination of the trans movement and its allies in securing today’s result. Ulrika Westerlund, Member of Parliament in the Green Party and longstanding champion of trans rights in Sweden, said: “Despite the polarisation and the at times very aggressive and unbalanced debate, the parliament has demonstrated unity between six parties who stand behind this review of the Swedish Legal Gender Recognition law. Today’s vote will not give trans people self-determination of change of legal gender, but the process will be simplified, available to 16-year-olds and not require a diagnosis. We welcome this and look forward to continuing working for additional improvements further on.” “This is a significant step for trans people’s rights in Sweden. But the new legislation remains out of step with that of its Nordic neighbours and the recently-passed German gender recognition law,  fully based on self-determination, which is the gold standard. The fight goes on,” said Micah Grzywnowicz, Regional Director of IPPF EN.   Photo by Ozan Öztaskiran on Unsplash

france
media center

| 28 February 2024

France takes major step towards constitutional protection of abortion rights

The International Planned Parenthood Federation congratulates France on its historic vote to enshrine the right to abortion in the Constitution. We are especially proud of the tremendous work and leadership of our French Member Association, Le Planning Familial.  We are now awaiting the final adoption of this constitutional reform by the French Congress, a step that must formally be instigated by French President Emmanuel Macron. 

france
media_center

| 28 February 2024

France takes major step towards constitutional protection of abortion rights

The International Planned Parenthood Federation congratulates France on its historic vote to enshrine the right to abortion in the Constitution. We are especially proud of the tremendous work and leadership of our French Member Association, Le Planning Familial.  We are now awaiting the final adoption of this constitutional reform by the French Congress, a step that must formally be instigated by French President Emmanuel Macron. 

Safe from Harm
media center

| 07 February 2024

EU fails to criminalise rape but strengthens prevention measures and support services for survivors

Yesterday, the European Parliament and Member States reached a hard-won agreement on the Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence. IPPF EN welcomes this first ever binding EU legislation on combating violence against women. But we regret that, while the Directive contains positive measures, the final text is incomplete and represents a serious missed opportunity to ensure protection from all forms of gender-based violence for all people.  It is outrageous and deeply disappointing that lack of political will from national governments, notably France and Germany, has resulted in a final text that does not tackle the scourge of sexual violence, in spite of bold efforts from the European Commission and Parliament. 

Safe from Harm
media_center

| 07 February 2024

EU fails to criminalise rape but strengthens prevention measures and support services for survivors

Yesterday, the European Parliament and Member States reached a hard-won agreement on the Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence. IPPF EN welcomes this first ever binding EU legislation on combating violence against women. But we regret that, while the Directive contains positive measures, the final text is incomplete and represents a serious missed opportunity to ensure protection from all forms of gender-based violence for all people.  It is outrageous and deeply disappointing that lack of political will from national governments, notably France and Germany, has resulted in a final text that does not tackle the scourge of sexual violence, in spite of bold efforts from the European Commission and Parliament. 

Romanian flag
media center

| 31 August 2023

Romania: IPPF EN is appalled by the failures of the Romanian healthcare system

IPPF EN is deeply worried by recent reports of denial of healthcare in Romania that speak to a shocking wider systemic problem. Last week, the case of Alexandra, a 25-year-old mother of three, who was denied emergency obstetric care in a hospital for seven hours, has ignited protests in Romania and heavy media coverage. The cause of death was an obstetric emergency which led to sepsis, acute cardio-respiratory insufficiency and acute pulmonary edema. Alexandra endured terrible pain for hours and asked for help from those whose duty was to save her, but her pleas went unanswered. The case is being investigated by the police. Alexandra's case is one of many pointing to a crumbling healthcare system that is harming all Romanian citizens. The country’s healthcare system is rated 34 out of 35 by the Euro Health Consumer Index. Things are especially dire for groups of people who are already made vulnerable by the system, such as women, Roma people and those living in poverty. Institutionalised stigma and discrimination run deep, with patients reporting being denied care or not being given quality care due to the colour of their skin or their ability to pay. The system is broken for everyone, but it is groups already facing challenging circumstances who bear the brunt. “From 2018 until 2021, there was an 183% increase in the maternal mortality rate. It’s unconceivable for an EU Member State to have such a high maternal and infant mortality rate. And it’s devastating that so many women have lost their lives, leaving their families behind. And while women’s health paints a grim picture, the problem is more widespread touching on all areas of health. Romania is among the countries that spends the least on healthcare as a share of GDP.” said Gabriel Brumariu from SECS, IPPF’s Romanian Member Association.

Romanian flag
media_center

| 31 August 2023

Romania: IPPF EN is appalled by the failures of the Romanian healthcare system

IPPF EN is deeply worried by recent reports of denial of healthcare in Romania that speak to a shocking wider systemic problem. Last week, the case of Alexandra, a 25-year-old mother of three, who was denied emergency obstetric care in a hospital for seven hours, has ignited protests in Romania and heavy media coverage. The cause of death was an obstetric emergency which led to sepsis, acute cardio-respiratory insufficiency and acute pulmonary edema. Alexandra endured terrible pain for hours and asked for help from those whose duty was to save her, but her pleas went unanswered. The case is being investigated by the police. Alexandra's case is one of many pointing to a crumbling healthcare system that is harming all Romanian citizens. The country’s healthcare system is rated 34 out of 35 by the Euro Health Consumer Index. Things are especially dire for groups of people who are already made vulnerable by the system, such as women, Roma people and those living in poverty. Institutionalised stigma and discrimination run deep, with patients reporting being denied care or not being given quality care due to the colour of their skin or their ability to pay. The system is broken for everyone, but it is groups already facing challenging circumstances who bear the brunt. “From 2018 until 2021, there was an 183% increase in the maternal mortality rate. It’s unconceivable for an EU Member State to have such a high maternal and infant mortality rate. And it’s devastating that so many women have lost their lives, leaving their families behind. And while women’s health paints a grim picture, the problem is more widespread touching on all areas of health. Romania is among the countries that spends the least on healthcare as a share of GDP.” said Gabriel Brumariu from SECS, IPPF’s Romanian Member Association.

Safe From Harm
media center

| 07 May 2024

Joint civil society reaction to the adoption of the EU Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence

Today, the Council of the EU officially adopted the EU Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence. As 13 civil society organisations which advocate for human rights, gender equality, and the right for all to live free from violence, we welcome this first ever binding EU legislation on this issue as a groundbreaking step. The Directive adopts a holistic approach to combat violence against women and domestic violence, incorporating measures relating to prevention, protection, support for victims, access to justice and prosecution of perpetrators. This achievement is the result of long-term advocacy by feminist movements and Members of the European Parliament championing the European Commission’s ambitious proposal. We extend our gratitude to everyone involved in making this Directive as strong as possible. We applaud the fact that the Directive recognizes the perpetration of female genital mutilation, forced marriage and certain forms of online violence as crimes. Unfortunately, other forms of violence were ultimately not criminalised, including intersex genital mutilation and forced sterilisation. We deeply regret that some Member States managed to derail the unprecedented opportunity to criminalise rape with a consent-based definition at the EU level. Sexual violence against women is endemic across the EU, with widespread impunity. Consent-based definitions of rape allow for all cases of rape to be included and strengthen protection and access to justice for victims of rape. We continue to call on all Member States who have not yet done so, to move towards adopting consent-based laws. Crucially, the Directive will require Member States to do more to prevent rape, by raising public awareness of the fact that sex without consent is a crime, through awareness raising programmes and educational materials. We encourage Member States to embrace the comprehensive prevention approach outlined in the Directive, in particular primary prevention initiatives, and to provide mandatory comprehensive sexuality education, which includes consent education and challenges harmful gender norms. The Directive further guarantees comprehensive support to victims of violence against women and girls and domestic violence and access to both general and specialist support services, shelters, support for child victims, as well as access to comprehensive medical care including sexual and reproductive health services. This is the first time that EU law imposes explicit obligations on Member States to provide access to this essential medical care for victims of sexual violence. Member States will also have to provide training for professionals likely to come into contact with victims, on how to provide this support. The Directive recognises that victims of violence against women and domestic violence who experience intersectional discrimination are at a heightened risk of violence, and obliges Member States to meet their specific needs. Targeting a public figure, a human rights defender, or someone for their personal characteristics will constitute an aggravating circumstance. In the implementation of the Directive, Member States must ensure that all victims and survivors of gender-based violence are protected, no matter their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics. However, EU lawmakers yet again silenced women impacted by EU migration policies. The only concrete step forward for migrant women is that the text requires Member States to make shelters available to all women experiencing domestic abuse, regardless of their residence status. Nonetheless we condemn that the final text does not retain provisions on protecting undocumented women's personal data from being transmitted to immigration authorities (neither in the context of accessing shelters, nor in terms of accessing justice). Member States must ensure that women are not deterred from going to the police because of their residence status, by including access to safe reporting in the ongoing revision of the Victims’ Rights Directive. We call on the European Commission to provide guidelines and training to Member States, based on international standards and in consultation with civil society organisations. We urge Member States to fully implement the Directive as soon as possible. Recalling that the Directive sets minimum standards, we call on Member States to go beyond these and to realise the highest standards across the EU. We call on the European Commission to review the Directive in the next five years and to work towards comprehensive and inclusive measures to address all forms of sexual and gender-based violence without discrimination. We, together with our members across Europe, are committed to providing our expertise, and look forward to supporting a strong implementation of the Directive, to progress towards a Europe where everyone is safe from gender-based violence.   Signatories: Amnesty International Center for Reproductive Rights EL*C - Eurocentralasian Lesbian* Community End FGM European Network  European Sex Workers Rights Alliance Human Rights Watch ILGA-Europe (The European region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN) La Strada International Organisation Intersex International Europe (OII Europe) Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) TGEU (Trans Europe and Central Asia) Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE)   Notes Throughout this statement, the term “women” should be understood as including “women and girls”, as in the definition of “violence against women” proposed by the European Commission in the Directive, which encompasses “violence directed against a woman or a girl”. Amnesty International, Center for Reproductive Rights, EuroCentralAsian Lesbian* Community (EL*C), End FGM European Network, European Sex Workers’ Rights Alliance (ESWA), Human Rights Watch, ILGA-Europe (The European region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association), International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN), La Strada International, Organisation Intersex International Europe (OII Europe), Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), TGEU (Trans Europe and Central Asia), Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE). Our organisations work on a diverse range of women's rights issues. In the drafting of this document, we have been led by the expertise of women’s rights organisations and women human rights defenders from communities most impacted by the specific forms of violence described in each section. Our commitment to the text below represents our coming together as a collective with shared values, even though not every organisation has its own policy or programme of work dedicated to each issue. For more information, see a joint civil society statement on the revision of the Victims’ Rights Directive, signed by some of our organisations who are advocating for victims’ rights.  

Safe From Harm
media_center

| 07 May 2024

Joint civil society reaction to the adoption of the EU Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence

Today, the Council of the EU officially adopted the EU Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence. As 13 civil society organisations which advocate for human rights, gender equality, and the right for all to live free from violence, we welcome this first ever binding EU legislation on this issue as a groundbreaking step. The Directive adopts a holistic approach to combat violence against women and domestic violence, incorporating measures relating to prevention, protection, support for victims, access to justice and prosecution of perpetrators. This achievement is the result of long-term advocacy by feminist movements and Members of the European Parliament championing the European Commission’s ambitious proposal. We extend our gratitude to everyone involved in making this Directive as strong as possible. We applaud the fact that the Directive recognizes the perpetration of female genital mutilation, forced marriage and certain forms of online violence as crimes. Unfortunately, other forms of violence were ultimately not criminalised, including intersex genital mutilation and forced sterilisation. We deeply regret that some Member States managed to derail the unprecedented opportunity to criminalise rape with a consent-based definition at the EU level. Sexual violence against women is endemic across the EU, with widespread impunity. Consent-based definitions of rape allow for all cases of rape to be included and strengthen protection and access to justice for victims of rape. We continue to call on all Member States who have not yet done so, to move towards adopting consent-based laws. Crucially, the Directive will require Member States to do more to prevent rape, by raising public awareness of the fact that sex without consent is a crime, through awareness raising programmes and educational materials. We encourage Member States to embrace the comprehensive prevention approach outlined in the Directive, in particular primary prevention initiatives, and to provide mandatory comprehensive sexuality education, which includes consent education and challenges harmful gender norms. The Directive further guarantees comprehensive support to victims of violence against women and girls and domestic violence and access to both general and specialist support services, shelters, support for child victims, as well as access to comprehensive medical care including sexual and reproductive health services. This is the first time that EU law imposes explicit obligations on Member States to provide access to this essential medical care for victims of sexual violence. Member States will also have to provide training for professionals likely to come into contact with victims, on how to provide this support. The Directive recognises that victims of violence against women and domestic violence who experience intersectional discrimination are at a heightened risk of violence, and obliges Member States to meet their specific needs. Targeting a public figure, a human rights defender, or someone for their personal characteristics will constitute an aggravating circumstance. In the implementation of the Directive, Member States must ensure that all victims and survivors of gender-based violence are protected, no matter their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics. However, EU lawmakers yet again silenced women impacted by EU migration policies. The only concrete step forward for migrant women is that the text requires Member States to make shelters available to all women experiencing domestic abuse, regardless of their residence status. Nonetheless we condemn that the final text does not retain provisions on protecting undocumented women's personal data from being transmitted to immigration authorities (neither in the context of accessing shelters, nor in terms of accessing justice). Member States must ensure that women are not deterred from going to the police because of their residence status, by including access to safe reporting in the ongoing revision of the Victims’ Rights Directive. We call on the European Commission to provide guidelines and training to Member States, based on international standards and in consultation with civil society organisations. We urge Member States to fully implement the Directive as soon as possible. Recalling that the Directive sets minimum standards, we call on Member States to go beyond these and to realise the highest standards across the EU. We call on the European Commission to review the Directive in the next five years and to work towards comprehensive and inclusive measures to address all forms of sexual and gender-based violence without discrimination. We, together with our members across Europe, are committed to providing our expertise, and look forward to supporting a strong implementation of the Directive, to progress towards a Europe where everyone is safe from gender-based violence.   Signatories: Amnesty International Center for Reproductive Rights EL*C - Eurocentralasian Lesbian* Community End FGM European Network  European Sex Workers Rights Alliance Human Rights Watch ILGA-Europe (The European region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN) La Strada International Organisation Intersex International Europe (OII Europe) Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM) TGEU (Trans Europe and Central Asia) Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE)   Notes Throughout this statement, the term “women” should be understood as including “women and girls”, as in the definition of “violence against women” proposed by the European Commission in the Directive, which encompasses “violence directed against a woman or a girl”. Amnesty International, Center for Reproductive Rights, EuroCentralAsian Lesbian* Community (EL*C), End FGM European Network, European Sex Workers’ Rights Alliance (ESWA), Human Rights Watch, ILGA-Europe (The European region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association), International Planned Parenthood Federation European Network (IPPF EN), La Strada International, Organisation Intersex International Europe (OII Europe), Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), TGEU (Trans Europe and Central Asia), Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE). Our organisations work on a diverse range of women's rights issues. In the drafting of this document, we have been led by the expertise of women’s rights organisations and women human rights defenders from communities most impacted by the specific forms of violence described in each section. Our commitment to the text below represents our coming together as a collective with shared values, even though not every organisation has its own policy or programme of work dedicated to each issue. For more information, see a joint civil society statement on the revision of the Victims’ Rights Directive, signed by some of our organisations who are advocating for victims’ rights.  

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media center

| 24 April 2024

Italy’s vote to involve anti-abortion actors in counselling violates women’s rights

IPPF strongly condemns yesterday’s vote in the Italian Senate in favour of involving anti-abortion associations in abortion counselling services, family planning centres (consultori) and hospitals.  The recent adoption of a measure allowing anti-abortion activists to enter abortion consultation clinics in Italy is deeply troubling and represents a significant attack on women’s reproductive rights and bodily autonomy. This move undermines the fundamental right to access safe and legal abortion care. By allowing external interference in such intimate healthcare decisions, the Italian government is reinforcing stigma and harming women. The social and psychological implications of this measure create an atmosphere of intimidation and coercion for women seeking reproductive healthcare services. We must prioritise policies that safeguard fundamental rights and foster inclusivity, rather than catering to narrow agendas that undermine reproductive freedoms and social progress. Furthermore, the allocation of EU funds to support measures restricting access to sexual and reproductive health services, including safe and legal abortion, is deeply concerning and runs counter to the principles of equality and fundamental rights enshrined in EU treaties. We strongly condemn any use of EU funds to fund initiatives that infringe upon individuals’ rights to make autonomous decisions about their bodies and health.  This decision runs counter to the objectives of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. In a recent statement, Veerle Nuyts, European Commission Spokesperson on economic and financial affairs already underlined that the provision concerning abortion does not belong in the Recovery and Resilience Fund. It is alarming that the Italian government is planning to misuse European funds to pay for harmful measures against women.  France has enshrined the right to abortion in its Constitution. The European Parliament voted to include it in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and explicitly asked to stop funding anti-gender and anti-choice organisations, and for Member States and local governments to increase their spending on programmes and subsidies to healthcare and family planning services. With yesterday's vote, Italy has done the opposite, underscoring an assault to the fundamental freedoms of millions of women, who have already been drastically affected by the funding cuts and subsequent closure of many family planning centres. We urge the Italian Government to reconsider its stance and prioritise policies that uphold the rights and dignity of all individuals, including comprehensive access to sexual and reproductive health services without discrimination or interference. We urge the EU to ensure the Italian Government cannot use EU funds to violate fundamental rights.   Photo credit: Emma Fabbri, unsplash

Italy flag
media_center

| 24 April 2024

Italy’s vote to involve anti-abortion actors in counselling violates women’s rights

IPPF strongly condemns yesterday’s vote in the Italian Senate in favour of involving anti-abortion associations in abortion counselling services, family planning centres (consultori) and hospitals.  The recent adoption of a measure allowing anti-abortion activists to enter abortion consultation clinics in Italy is deeply troubling and represents a significant attack on women’s reproductive rights and bodily autonomy. This move undermines the fundamental right to access safe and legal abortion care. By allowing external interference in such intimate healthcare decisions, the Italian government is reinforcing stigma and harming women. The social and psychological implications of this measure create an atmosphere of intimidation and coercion for women seeking reproductive healthcare services. We must prioritise policies that safeguard fundamental rights and foster inclusivity, rather than catering to narrow agendas that undermine reproductive freedoms and social progress. Furthermore, the allocation of EU funds to support measures restricting access to sexual and reproductive health services, including safe and legal abortion, is deeply concerning and runs counter to the principles of equality and fundamental rights enshrined in EU treaties. We strongly condemn any use of EU funds to fund initiatives that infringe upon individuals’ rights to make autonomous decisions about their bodies and health.  This decision runs counter to the objectives of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. In a recent statement, Veerle Nuyts, European Commission Spokesperson on economic and financial affairs already underlined that the provision concerning abortion does not belong in the Recovery and Resilience Fund. It is alarming that the Italian government is planning to misuse European funds to pay for harmful measures against women.  France has enshrined the right to abortion in its Constitution. The European Parliament voted to include it in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and explicitly asked to stop funding anti-gender and anti-choice organisations, and for Member States and local governments to increase their spending on programmes and subsidies to healthcare and family planning services. With yesterday's vote, Italy has done the opposite, underscoring an assault to the fundamental freedoms of millions of women, who have already been drastically affected by the funding cuts and subsequent closure of many family planning centres. We urge the Italian Government to reconsider its stance and prioritise policies that uphold the rights and dignity of all individuals, including comprehensive access to sexual and reproductive health services without discrimination or interference. We urge the EU to ensure the Italian Government cannot use EU funds to violate fundamental rights.   Photo credit: Emma Fabbri, unsplash

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media center

| 17 April 2024

Sweden’s new legal gender recognition law is a vital step in the right direction

IPPF EN welcomes today’s vote by the Swedish Parliament of a new law on legal gender recognition. This replaces a law initially dating from 1972 which, whilst very progressive 50 years ago, was no longer fit for purpose.  The bill adopted today, despite its limitations, contains important measures that will remove some of the obstacles that trans people currently face when they want to change a gender marker in their legal documents to reflect their gender identity. It is positive that the reform will simplify the administrative process and separate it from the process for accessing gender-affirming care. IPPF EN celebrates the adoption of the new law, and pays tribute to the commitment and determination of the trans movement and its allies in securing today’s result. Ulrika Westerlund, Member of Parliament in the Green Party and longstanding champion of trans rights in Sweden, said: “Despite the polarisation and the at times very aggressive and unbalanced debate, the parliament has demonstrated unity between six parties who stand behind this review of the Swedish Legal Gender Recognition law. Today’s vote will not give trans people self-determination of change of legal gender, but the process will be simplified, available to 16-year-olds and not require a diagnosis. We welcome this and look forward to continuing working for additional improvements further on.” “This is a significant step for trans people’s rights in Sweden. But the new legislation remains out of step with that of its Nordic neighbours and the recently-passed German gender recognition law,  fully based on self-determination, which is the gold standard. The fight goes on,” said Micah Grzywnowicz, Regional Director of IPPF EN.   Photo by Ozan Öztaskiran on Unsplash

Sweden flag
media_center

| 17 April 2024

Sweden’s new legal gender recognition law is a vital step in the right direction

IPPF EN welcomes today’s vote by the Swedish Parliament of a new law on legal gender recognition. This replaces a law initially dating from 1972 which, whilst very progressive 50 years ago, was no longer fit for purpose.  The bill adopted today, despite its limitations, contains important measures that will remove some of the obstacles that trans people currently face when they want to change a gender marker in their legal documents to reflect their gender identity. It is positive that the reform will simplify the administrative process and separate it from the process for accessing gender-affirming care. IPPF EN celebrates the adoption of the new law, and pays tribute to the commitment and determination of the trans movement and its allies in securing today’s result. Ulrika Westerlund, Member of Parliament in the Green Party and longstanding champion of trans rights in Sweden, said: “Despite the polarisation and the at times very aggressive and unbalanced debate, the parliament has demonstrated unity between six parties who stand behind this review of the Swedish Legal Gender Recognition law. Today’s vote will not give trans people self-determination of change of legal gender, but the process will be simplified, available to 16-year-olds and not require a diagnosis. We welcome this and look forward to continuing working for additional improvements further on.” “This is a significant step for trans people’s rights in Sweden. But the new legislation remains out of step with that of its Nordic neighbours and the recently-passed German gender recognition law,  fully based on self-determination, which is the gold standard. The fight goes on,” said Micah Grzywnowicz, Regional Director of IPPF EN.   Photo by Ozan Öztaskiran on Unsplash

france
media center

| 28 February 2024

France takes major step towards constitutional protection of abortion rights

The International Planned Parenthood Federation congratulates France on its historic vote to enshrine the right to abortion in the Constitution. We are especially proud of the tremendous work and leadership of our French Member Association, Le Planning Familial.  We are now awaiting the final adoption of this constitutional reform by the French Congress, a step that must formally be instigated by French President Emmanuel Macron. 

france
media_center

| 28 February 2024

France takes major step towards constitutional protection of abortion rights

The International Planned Parenthood Federation congratulates France on its historic vote to enshrine the right to abortion in the Constitution. We are especially proud of the tremendous work and leadership of our French Member Association, Le Planning Familial.  We are now awaiting the final adoption of this constitutional reform by the French Congress, a step that must formally be instigated by French President Emmanuel Macron. 

Safe from Harm
media center

| 07 February 2024

EU fails to criminalise rape but strengthens prevention measures and support services for survivors

Yesterday, the European Parliament and Member States reached a hard-won agreement on the Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence. IPPF EN welcomes this first ever binding EU legislation on combating violence against women. But we regret that, while the Directive contains positive measures, the final text is incomplete and represents a serious missed opportunity to ensure protection from all forms of gender-based violence for all people.  It is outrageous and deeply disappointing that lack of political will from national governments, notably France and Germany, has resulted in a final text that does not tackle the scourge of sexual violence, in spite of bold efforts from the European Commission and Parliament. 

Safe from Harm
media_center

| 07 February 2024

EU fails to criminalise rape but strengthens prevention measures and support services for survivors

Yesterday, the European Parliament and Member States reached a hard-won agreement on the Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence. IPPF EN welcomes this first ever binding EU legislation on combating violence against women. But we regret that, while the Directive contains positive measures, the final text is incomplete and represents a serious missed opportunity to ensure protection from all forms of gender-based violence for all people.  It is outrageous and deeply disappointing that lack of political will from national governments, notably France and Germany, has resulted in a final text that does not tackle the scourge of sexual violence, in spite of bold efforts from the European Commission and Parliament. 

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media center

| 31 August 2023

Romania: IPPF EN is appalled by the failures of the Romanian healthcare system

IPPF EN is deeply worried by recent reports of denial of healthcare in Romania that speak to a shocking wider systemic problem. Last week, the case of Alexandra, a 25-year-old mother of three, who was denied emergency obstetric care in a hospital for seven hours, has ignited protests in Romania and heavy media coverage. The cause of death was an obstetric emergency which led to sepsis, acute cardio-respiratory insufficiency and acute pulmonary edema. Alexandra endured terrible pain for hours and asked for help from those whose duty was to save her, but her pleas went unanswered. The case is being investigated by the police. Alexandra's case is one of many pointing to a crumbling healthcare system that is harming all Romanian citizens. The country’s healthcare system is rated 34 out of 35 by the Euro Health Consumer Index. Things are especially dire for groups of people who are already made vulnerable by the system, such as women, Roma people and those living in poverty. Institutionalised stigma and discrimination run deep, with patients reporting being denied care or not being given quality care due to the colour of their skin or their ability to pay. The system is broken for everyone, but it is groups already facing challenging circumstances who bear the brunt. “From 2018 until 2021, there was an 183% increase in the maternal mortality rate. It’s unconceivable for an EU Member State to have such a high maternal and infant mortality rate. And it’s devastating that so many women have lost their lives, leaving their families behind. And while women’s health paints a grim picture, the problem is more widespread touching on all areas of health. Romania is among the countries that spends the least on healthcare as a share of GDP.” said Gabriel Brumariu from SECS, IPPF’s Romanian Member Association.

Romanian flag
media_center

| 31 August 2023

Romania: IPPF EN is appalled by the failures of the Romanian healthcare system

IPPF EN is deeply worried by recent reports of denial of healthcare in Romania that speak to a shocking wider systemic problem. Last week, the case of Alexandra, a 25-year-old mother of three, who was denied emergency obstetric care in a hospital for seven hours, has ignited protests in Romania and heavy media coverage. The cause of death was an obstetric emergency which led to sepsis, acute cardio-respiratory insufficiency and acute pulmonary edema. Alexandra endured terrible pain for hours and asked for help from those whose duty was to save her, but her pleas went unanswered. The case is being investigated by the police. Alexandra's case is one of many pointing to a crumbling healthcare system that is harming all Romanian citizens. The country’s healthcare system is rated 34 out of 35 by the Euro Health Consumer Index. Things are especially dire for groups of people who are already made vulnerable by the system, such as women, Roma people and those living in poverty. Institutionalised stigma and discrimination run deep, with patients reporting being denied care or not being given quality care due to the colour of their skin or their ability to pay. The system is broken for everyone, but it is groups already facing challenging circumstances who bear the brunt. “From 2018 until 2021, there was an 183% increase in the maternal mortality rate. It’s unconceivable for an EU Member State to have such a high maternal and infant mortality rate. And it’s devastating that so many women have lost their lives, leaving their families behind. And while women’s health paints a grim picture, the problem is more widespread touching on all areas of health. Romania is among the countries that spends the least on healthcare as a share of GDP.” said Gabriel Brumariu from SECS, IPPF’s Romanian Member Association.