Sexual and domestic violence should be punished more harshly across the EU in the future. Negotiators from the European Parliament and EU states agreed in Strasbourg on a law that would regulate certain crimes equally in all countries. According to EU countries and Parliament, it is the first EU law to combat sexual violence. "Today we take the first step towards making Europe the first continent in the world to eliminate violence against women," said European Parliament negotiator Frances Fitzgerald.
Cyber stalking, forced marriage, female genital mutilation - or sending intimate images without consent will now be punishable throughout the EU. The new requirements still have to be approved by Parliament and the EU states. In most cases this is a formality.
“Only yes means yes” doesn’t make it into the law
However, EU-wide standards on rape were not regulated. Parliament called for a regulation that every sexual act must be consented to: only yes means yes. However, several countries in the EU, including Germany, blocked this. The critics argued that there was no legal basis in European law for such a uniform regulation. A corresponding article therefore did not make it into law.
Previously, over a hundred prominent women had written an open letter calling on Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP) to give up the blockade. "I am very disappointed that some member states have chosen to be on the wrong side of history and block the inclusion of a consent-based rape law," said Socialist MEP Evin Incir.
In the future, however, the EU states will have to set up a national telephone helpline that victims of violence can reach around the clock and free of charge. They should also take measures to prevent violence against women and domestic violence. These should aim, for example, to raise awareness of the types of violence that exist against women and to combat harmful gender stereotypes.