'Ignore rape in violence against women directive', says Council

The European Council wants to remove the criminalisation of rape out of the draft directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence.

The European Trade Union Confederation condemns the decision of some member states to hide behind a false argument that there is no legal basis for its inclusion. 

The Council’s proposals also fail to address the safety of women in the workplace by:

  • Taking out the definition of sexual harassment at work and adds to all provisions that mention sexual harassment at work “when it constitutes a criminal offense under national law”.
  • Giving no role to trade unions in preventing and addressing instances of sexual harassment at work, and failing to recognise domestic violence and cyber violence as workplace issues.
  • Removing the role of health and safety representatives and risk assessments in the prevention of violence, which was included in the Commission’s original proposal.

ETUC Deputy General Secretary Isabelle Schömann said:

“The Council’s efforts to remove the criminalisation of rape from a directive on preventing violence against women are shocking and sends totally the wrong message.

“Member states are trying to hide behind perceived legal complexities but the reality is that is simply a convenient excuse for their lack of political will. It is simply shameful.

“At a time when up to two thirds of women in some sectors face violence at work, the decision to remove any measure to make work safer is completely irresponsible.

“This directive is an opportunity to bring together rules against all forms of violence into an ambitious directive which gives the highest level of protection to women wherever they are.

“We call on Parliament and Commission representatives to fight hard in trialogue negotiations to ensure this directive has a meaningful outcome.”