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EU’s first directive on violence against women agreed


The European Union’s first directive on combatting violence against women has been agreed.

Controversially however, the new law will not include the crime of rape after member states, including Ireland, could not agree on a legal definition.

Despite its exclusion, the directive will include crimes in relation to female genital mutilation (FGM), forced marriage, the non-consensual sharing of intimate material and cyber stalking.

Dublin MEP Frances Fitzgerald, who led negotiations on behalf of the European Parliament, welcomed the agreement describing it as a “beginning not an end”.

However, she expressed disappointment regarding the exclusion of a definition of rape, based on a person not giving consent.

“There is unfinished business quite clearly. Many of us would have got quite disturbing insights into the attitudes to rape in the member states when we could not get a consent based definition of rape into this directive,” she told a press conference.

While the directive does not include rape as a crime, it does include language around prevention, requiring member states to promote the role of consent in sexual relationships and to take targeted measures for the prevention of rape.

Advocacy groups in Ireland, such as the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre and Women’s Aid, had previously urged countries to include rape as a crime in the directive.

Irish law around rape is already based on a person not giving consent. However, it was hoped that the directive could harmonise rules across the EU, as some countries include the use of force in their definition.

Now that the directive on combatting violence against women has been agreed, member states will be required to transcribe it into national law.


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