“Legal Measures to Combat Violence against Women,
including Domestic Violence”
The Hague, 21-22 February 2007
Speech by Ms Carina Hägg
Chair of the Sub-Committee on Violence against Women,
Parliamentary Assembly, Council of Europe
Dear Director General,
It is my great pleasure and honour to address the first Regional Seminar of the Council of Europe Campaign “Stop domestic violence against women” in my quality of Chair of the Subcommittee on violence against women of the Parliamentary Assembly. Let me first thank warmly the Dutch Ministry of Justice for hosting this seminar today. This will provide us with an opportunity to confront our experience on legal measures to combat domestic violence against women.
As you may know, following the adoption of Resolution 1512 (2006), the Parliamentary Assembly, together with all 46 national parliaments, is implementing the parliamentary dimension of the Council of Europe pan-European campaign. This action is run under the slogan “Parliaments united in combating domestic violence against women”. We firmly believe that all parliaments can usefully contribute to ensure a better, safer environment for women. Therefore, I very much look forward to our exchange of views, which will enrich our parliamentary work.
In the framework of the Council of Europe Campaign, parliamentarians are invited to denounce and combat domestic violence against women. They should ensure that the appropriate legal framework is in place to punish the perpetrators, assist and protect victims and promote gender equality policies that will contribute to eradicating domestic violence. They have a role to play to ensure that governments table legislation which accords with international agreements, as domestic violence is a serious violations of human rights that cannot be accepted by the Council of Europe.
In this perspective, parliamentarians can play an active role in supporting the adoption of efficient and innovative legal measures. They can for example
§ make use of their constitutional right to initiate legislation
§ adopt laws that should, for example :
§ criminalise rape outside and within marriage
§ evict violent spouses from their home
§ include measures inspired by the Committee of Ministers Recommendation Rec(2002)5.
§ And, last but not least, parliamentarians should supervise the implementation of the laws and ensure that the laws they adopt are implemented and work in practice.
The Parliamentary Assembly has underlined the necessity to launch a comprehensive action to combat domestic violence. Governments, parliaments, local and regional authorities, we all need to work together and pool our resources if we want to reach concrete results, such as
§ create safe houses for victims of domestic violence and their children
§ set up support facilities in police stations to make sure that the complaints lodged by women victims of violence with the police are taken seriously and are adequately processed
§ prosecute perpetrators and remove them from home
§ award compensation to victims
§ train staff working in health services, care, police, justice, social and education services
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am one of the now 43 contact parliamentarians appointed by national parliaments across Europe1. In this capacity, I will be responsible for ensuring that the Swedish parliament contributes to the Campaign.
Sweden is sometimes referred to as a world-leader in the field of gender equality. Since the 1970s, violence against women has been viewed as an important political issue in Sweden. Despite this, domestic violence against women has not stopped. On the contrary, statistics from the National Council for Crime Prevention indicate that there may have been an increase of incidents in recent years. In 2005, over 24,000 cases of assault against women were reported, and in 75 of the cases the perpetrator was said to have a close relationship with the woman. This probable increase of violence in the home is not unique to Sweden but may concern many Council of Europe member states.
Sweden may be considered to be best in the field on gender equality, but we still have a lot to learn and plenty more needs to be done. What are the best approaches and methods? Exchanging experiences across borders and continuing to work with good examples are crucial if we are to achieve our goal of stopping this violence.
This work can and must get off the ground now. It is our hope that the Council of Europe’s campaign will serve as a much-needed catalyst. It is about making a reality of the goals that the Swedish Parliament already supports. All good resources must be mobilised if we are to tackle one of our most challenging democratic problems.
In this perspective, I would like to emphasize, once again, the importance attached by the Parliamentary Assembly to working in a comprehensive way and fostering dialogue with representatives of the governments and the local authorities, not forgetting the non governmental organizations which are often dealing, at first hand, with the victims of domestic violence. You can be assured that the network of contact parliamentarians will be fully involved in the implementation of the Campaign and stands ready to promote such cross-cutting exchange of experience. In this very perspective, the national parliaments will be invited to organize in March 2007 a Day of parliamentary hearing, with the presence of members of parliament, government representatives, local authorities, NGOs and professionals working in the field of domestic violence.
I will be very interested in reporting on the output of this seminar to the members of the Assembly Committee on Equal Opportunities of Women and Men and to the contact parliamentarians who are running, at national parliamentary level, the Campaign. We also look forward to continuing this fruitful co-operation in the upcoming regional seminars.
I wish you a fruitful seminar and thank you for your attention.