Eradication of violence against women is inextricably connected with the fundamental goal of gender equality. At the same time it constitutes a requirement for social and economic development. These messages were highlighted at today´s opening day of the European Conference on combating violence against women. The conference, which started today, November 8, and will be concluded tomorrow, is organised by the Cyprus Presidency and the European Commission and is being held at the ‘Filoxenia’ Conference Centre in Lefkosia (Nicosia).
The main aims of the Conference are to review the progress made in recent years in Europe and to present good practices that are implemented in the fields of prevention, fighting and protection of female victims of violence.
Cyprus’ Minister of Justice and Public Order, Mr. Loucas Louca, addressed the Conference on behalf of the Cyprus Presidency, while Mrs Daniela Bankier, chief of the Gender Equality Unit of the European Commission Directorate General of Justice, who represents the Commission, also gave a speech.
Focus on victim protection
The Cyprus Presidency, acknowledging the extent and severity of the problem, has set the combating of violence against women as a priority with regard to gender equality, placing particular emphasis on victims support services. The Cyprus Presidency´s agenda includes the conduct of a survey/study by the European Institute for Gender Equality on violence against women, with particular focus on the protection of the victims. Another important initiative undertaken by the Cypriot Police, under the Presidency, is the preparation of a manual on the best practices implemented at a European level, aiming to deal with the premature closure of domestic violence cases through policing.
Mr. Louca made extensive reference to the Presidency´s actions in the field and stressed that the culmination of these efforts is to promote the ratification of Council conclusions on violence against women. The Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council will meet on December 6-7. Discussions are already taking place in the working group.
“Our pursuit is to convey a strong message in all directions condemning all forms of violence against women, as well as to stimulate the promotion of important actions that approach all aspects of the problem in a coordinated fashion on a global scale”, the Minister said.
Side effects cost € 16 bn a year
Violence against women constitutes a glaring violation of the fundamental human rights of life, security and freedom. Moreover, there is a side effect of violence against women, which cannot be neglected, especially during this period of economic recession. According to research conducted for the Council of Europe, the annual cost to EU economies because of this sort of crime is 16 billion euros. Obviously, violence against women is a phenomenon with a significant economic impact, adversely affecting the whole of society and the active participation of women in all aspects of society.
The Cypriot minister noted that “despite the economic crisis, we need to remain committed to promoting gender equality and eradicating violence against women thus preventing from any step backwards”.
“Equality and elimination of violence should not be perceived as an additional economic burden to society, but as a prerequisite for boosting socioeconomic development and for emerging from the economic crisis’’, stressed Mr. Louca.
All aspects on the table
Officials of the Commission and the Council of Europe, representatives of various networks and organisations dealing with issues of gender equality, as well as well-known experts and academics, exchanged views on the subject, covering almost all aspects of the phenomenon of violence against women.
Today, the participants looked at, inter alia, the EU Policy framework for combating violence against women, the impact of the economic crisis on efforts to combat violence against women, relevant NGO action as well as the imperative role that education can play towards prevention.
Furthermore, a study on the prevalence of domestic violence against women in Cyprus was presented. Tomorrow, Friday November 9, emphasis will be given to various legal and criminal aspects of the issue through presentations and discussions regarding practices of investigating criminal cases, prosecution procedures as well as mechanisms for victim protection and support within the framework of various legal systems in the EU.
The Minister of Labour and Social Insurance, Ms Sotiroulla Charalambous, will address tomorrow’s closing ceremony.
Ministry of Justice & Public Order
Telephone: +357 22805996