Commissioner defends EU laws on tackling gender violence
The chair of the European Parliament's Women's Rights Committee, Mikael Gustafsson, has warned that women and girls suffer from violence from men "throughout their lives".
Opening a debate on 4 February 2013 ahead of the forthcoming meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, that takes place in New York in March, Mr Gustafsson said the threat of violence - even if there was no actual violence - is still a form of violence.
He cited the fact that the fear of violence meant that women habitually avoided public transport at night or travelled in groups.
"Gender violence restricts the ability of women to move around and underscores the patriarchal status of our society where men lead and women follow," he claimed.
Responding to the debate, Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said that one in five women have suffered physical violence at least once in their life.
She said the EU would use the forthcoming UN meeting to promote measures already being taken to eliminate gender violence.
She praised EU laws on human trafficking, child abuse and the European Protection Order as work already being done.
However she added that the EU could only play a limited role, and urged MEPs to continue to raise the issue with national government.
Ms Reding also called for more global action to tackle "hidden gender violence" such as female genital mutilation (FGM), carried out amongst certain cultural groups.
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