Final Report of the Federal Government of Germany to the CoE Campaign against Violence against Women, Including Domestic Violence
Combating violence against women is one of the priorities of the Federal Government. On December 1st, 1999 the First Action Plan to Combat Violence against Women was decreed. With this Action Plan for the first time Germany had an overall concept on the federal level to combat all forms of violence. The reduction of this violence is also a long term commitment which is systematically followed, as is proved by the second Action Plan explained below. In the following the main aspects of the Federal Government’s strategy are presented.
1.) The Second National Action Plan of the Federal Government to Combat Violence against Women
The a.m. First Action Plan to Combat Violence against Women was managed by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, who was also in charge of the compilation of the measures. Two steering committees were established: the federal working groups “trafficking in women” and “domestic violence”, in which participated next to the responsible ministries of the federal level also representatives of the “Länder”, communities and NGOs.
All the measures announced in 1999 were implemented by September 2004. Central results were i.e.: the Act on Protection from Violence, the Act on an Upbringing Free from Violence, the first representative study on the prevalence of violence against women in Germany and its background and consequences, the establishment of networking centres on the federal level to various aspects of combating violence against women, the negotiation, signature and ratification of the CEDAW Optional Protocol and the negotiation and ratification of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime.
Research and practise opened new topics and questions which make a new edition of the Action Plan of the Federal Government necessary. The topics will be again to compile and manage measures, plans and projects of all ministries in the following areas:
3. A system to advice and support women affected by violence
4. Federal networking
5. Cooperation between governmental institutions and non governmental support offers
6. Work with offenders
7. Qualification and awareness raising
8. European and other international cooperation
9. Research; Evaluation
10. Support of women abroad.
The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth therefore put before the cabinet a new edition of the Action Plan to Combat Violence against Women in September 2007. The Action Plan II - next to continuing best practice - puts the focus on the following topics and provides for new measures to the following challenges and questions:
- strengthening the protection of migrant women affected by violence,
- improving the protection of women with disabilities.
- intensifying prevention that starts at the earliest possible stage and achieving an effective, enhanced combination of measures for child, youth and women's protection.
- activating the health care field, mainly the medical profession, for the protection of affected women, and
- we seek to further improve the low-threshold easy access to the aid system for those affected.
2.) The Networking Centres of the Assistance and Support System for Victims
Within its competence and possibilities within the federal system the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth supports the nation wide networking centres of the assistance system for women affected by violence:
- For the networking of the women’s counselling services and emergency lines: The National Association of Women's Counseling and Rape Crisis Programs – Women against Violence (bff.e.V.);
- For the networking of the specialized counseling services against trafficking in women the “Coordination Circle against Trafficking in Women and Violence against Women in Migration, (KOK e.V.) and
- For the networking of the women’s shelters in Germany the Coordination of Women’s Shelters (FHK e.V.)
The financial support of these three networking centres constitutes a central measure of the Second National Action Plan.
2.1.) Coordination of Women’s Shelters e.V.
The coordination of women’s shelters (FHK e.V.) works towards the reduction of violence against women and for effective assistance for abused women and children. It is a non profit organisation under the responsibility of the large welfare foundations in Germany and supported by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth.
The main tasks of the FHK are networking and coordination, information and service as well as awareness raising and public relations work.
Since 1997 the FHK has been assisting over 360 women’s shelters of various organizations in their common interests and their daily work. Being a networking centre it offers the representatives of women’s shelters a forum for the exchange and elaboration of positions, comments and standards. It processed professional questions, financial and legal questions for the women’s shelters and passes out information and practical advice to the counselling of the women living in the shelters and women in violent situations. Another crucial task of the FHK is to combine the experience and knowledge of the women working in the shelters and transport this to the public, politics and research.
Goals are amongst others:
- procurement and processing of information on and for the work of women’s shelters
- combination of the special knowledge of women working in the shelters and transportation of this into the public debate, politics and research
- strengthening of the position of women staying in the shelter and support for women who become victims of violence.
The most important topics dealt with by the Association of Women's Shelters in the past few years have been:
- securing subsistence for women affected by violence
- financing organisations which support women affected by violence
- migrants and domestic violence
- children as co-victims of domestic violence
The FHK has identified the following areas as fields of major concern for the near future
- setting up early contact with women who are victims of domestic violence
- improving contact with different target groups such as, for example, migrants
- improving the analysis of risk and exposure in cases of domestic violence
- improving the regulations on the rights of access and child custody in instances of domestic violence with special emphasis on the rights of protection of women and children
2.2.) BFF - The National Association of Women's Counseling and Rape Crisis Programs – Women against Violence
Women's Counseling and Rape Crisis Programs provide the major share of the counseling and support services on psychological, physical and sexualized violence available in Germany. Over the course of the years, these organizations have developed a high level of competence in their counseling skills and in the further training provided to other institutions and to professionals.
Moreover, through public information and political work in recent years, they have played a decisive role in the field of education, information and prevention of violence, as well as in legislative reforms. All these measures have contributed to an overall improvement of the situation of abused women.
In 2004, the two separate nationwide associations of women's counseling and rape crisis programs formed a united non-governmental organization: The National Association of Women's Counseling und Rape Crisis Programs – Women against Violence.
The top priority of this new association is the further improvement of the situation of abused women in Germany. This is to be achieved by greater effectiveness in the work, by quality development within the organizations, and through training, public relations, networking and political work outside of the organizations.
The National Association of Women's Counseling und Rape Crisis Programs – Women against Violence currently has 136 member organizations, all of which are NGOs.
2.3.) KOK e.V. - Coordination Circle against Trafficking in Women and Violence against Women in Migration
The Coordination Circle against Trafficking in Women and Violence against Women in Migration (KOK e.V.) is a network of women’s organizations which work against global trafficking in women and the realization of women migrants’ rights. KOK was founded in 1999 and today counts 37 members. These members are specialized counseling centers for victims of trafficking in women, women migrants’ projects, church associations, lobby organizations and counseling centers for prostitutes. Within this network KOK combines the forces of its various members.
Not only on the national level but also on a European scale KOK is the only coordination center with this focus. Supported by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth an office for lobbying and coordination has been established in Berlin.
Goals are amongst others:
- the improvement of the legal and social situation of victims of trafficking in women
- anchoring political and legal measures against trafficking in women on the Länder and federal level as well as the European and international level
- awareness raising of the (informed) public for the complex topic of trafficking in women and violence against women migrants
- the full enjoyment of the human rights of female migrants
- improvement of the residence status and labour status situation of women migrants.
To achieve these goals KOK is member of federal and international fora and introduces its political demands into the processes of decision and legislation. On the international scale KOK has established contacts with other European networks and specialised counselling centres. KOK has been invited as expert in EU-Parliament hearings, OSCE and IOM.
KOK combines the practical knowledge and experience of its members and therefore disposes of a specialised competence regarding the topics trafficking in women and violence against women migrants. KOK’s work encompasses a service offer addressed especially toward its members, political lobbying and influencing civil society, networking and working in for a and awareness raising.
3.) Data Collection and Processing
Commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth the representative study “Health, Well-Being and Personal Safety of Women in Germany” published in 2004 contains important data, and data processing and therefore also findings in the area of violence against women. An overall of 10 000 women between 16 and 85 years of age all over Germany were interviewed. The figures of the study indicated a mid till high prevalence of violence of women compared with international data. According to the findings 37% of all women have experienced physical violence, 13% have experienced sexual violence. 40 percent of the interviewed women answered yes when questioned on physical of sexual violence.
58% of all interviewed women have experienced various forms of sexual molestation. 42% of all interviewed women have experienced forms of physical violence, like systematic depreciation, humiliation, marginalization, defamation, severe insults, threats and psychosocial terrorization.
About 25% of the women living in Germany have experienced forms of physical or sexual violence or both committed by their present of former partner.
Violence against women is committed primarily by men and primarily by the partner or in the domestic sphere. Risk factors are - next to separation or the intention of separation - also experiences of violence in childhood or youth, education, income and social strata.
The representative study as well as further publications on the topic of violence against women can be downloaded via
The results of representative study are used to develop further targeted measures for the improvement of the affected women’s situation. So far not all data collected have been interpreted. Therefore the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth has started to commission various secondary analyses of the data, for example concerning the grade of severity of domestic violence, risk and protective factors, support needs of the affected and health consequences. These analyses also include an analysis on the health situation of migrant women in Germany and examine possible interconnections between ailments, migratory background, psychosocial situation and prevalence of violence in and outside the domestic sphere. The results of this secondary analysis were published in March 2008. A central result is the fact, that the health related higher decree of stress amongst migrant women is not primarily caused by a higher prevalence of violence, but by other factors such as their social situation, a lower standard of education and a lack of well secured integration into society and work life as well as the absence of a closely woven net of trustful relationships. The study can be accessed:
In September 2007 the Federal Government published the results of study on the practical work in the field of “forced marriages” in Germany announced in the interim report.
Building on this study a call for a scientific study on the prevalence of forced marriages in Germany is under preparation.
4.) Current campaigns supported by the Federal Government
4.1) Campaign “Take a Stand in 2007 – Non-Violent Lives for Women”
Even today in Germany, one woman in three is beaten, threatened, raped or stalked during her lifetime. However, many people are hardly aware of this fact. Unfortunately, reactions and responses to these violent acts are still rare. Both the victims of this violence and witnesses keep silent, play the problem down or don't dare to confront it. The National Association of Women's Counseling und Rape Crisis Programs – Women against Violence (bff) has initiated a nationwide campaign with the goal of raising awareness for this issue. Victims are to be encouraged to talk about their experiences and to seek support and help.
The bff launched this campaign in March 2007 under the slogan “Take the Right Stand: Oppose Violence.” It is a participatory campaign, in which political figures, celebrities and other public personalities have the opportunity to take a stand against violence against women by publicizing a personal statement along with a photo of their own legs and feet. The general public can also participate by publishing individual personal statements, with a photo of one’s feet, on the bff website www.frauen-gegen-gewalt.de
Patron of the campaign is the Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, Ms. Ursula von der Leyen. Other supporters include TV-chef Sarah Wiener, writer Heidi Schüller, actors Kirstin Meyer and Michaela May, entertainer Hella von Sinnen and TV-court-show judge Barbara Salesch. Some women's magazines have agreed to publish the points of views of these celebrities as free advertisements.
The opening event of the campaign – a reception and press conference – took place on March 7, 2007 at the Academy of the Arts in Berlin. Present were political and other public figures who presented their statements and photos.
Despite the plans to end the campaign in November 2007, it is still running. Its first anniversary was celebrated on the International Women’s day 2008. It was decided that the time-frame of the campaign must be extended to ensure that everybody interested in joining it could do so.
To make all the campaigns’ hitherto successes visible nevertheless, a brochure presenting some interim results together with a selection of pictures was published. More than 60 regional and local events and about 70 newspaper articles along with over 2000 statements against violence in the picture gallery on the bff website (www.frauen-gegen-gewalt.de) bear witness for the great and persisting success of the campaign. Meanwhile, two Federal Ministers joined the campaign, additionally.
As a result, it can already be said that the campaign succeeds in breaking the ban on talking about violence against women and that it is contributing significantly to increase the awareness that violence against women is a topic that concerns a society as a whole.
To order the brochure and posters with a selection of pictures and to get more information, please contact: email@example.com or: +4930/ 32299500
4.2) Action of the Catholic Women’s Association in Germany (kfd) against Domestic Violence
On March 8, 2007 the Catholic Women’s Association in Germany (kfd), a large German women’s association with 650 000 members, with the support of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth has launched an action against domestic violence against women.
Goal of the action is:
- to increase the awareness and sensitivity in the communities for domestic violence
- to enable its members and interested women to inform on available assistance and contact points close by
- to encourage affected women to seek counselling and help.
Kfd with is many groups of volunteer women via this action becomes an important multiplier and supporter of the local contact points for women affected by violence. Especially in rural areas the local emergency hotline or the women’s shelter is often unknown, or there exists great inhibitions to accept counselling and support. This is the starting point for kfd’s action.
- info-flyer “domestic violence is no destiny! seek help!”, which is a small flyer in credit card format with first information for affected women to pass on and display in town halls and public locations such as medical centres, pharmacies, shops. The page contains space for telephone numbers of local contact points for women affected by violence.
- Paper handkerchiefs “domestic violence is not destiny! Seek help!” with nationwide information on help and counselling for women.
- Extensive information material on the webpage of kfd www.kfd.de.
The main results so far have been a high feedback within the kfd and led the topic of “Domestic Violence” out of its hitherto marginalized existence within the organisation. Kfd has improved and intensified its contacts to women’s shelters, women’s counselling services and other contact partners for the field of domestic violence on a local level. Sustainable networks have emerged and increased the knowledge on a local level for support services.
The campaign will continue till at least 2010, giving those parts of kfd who so far have not been actively involved the opportunity to become a part. The campaign will continue to train multipliers and intends to broaden the aspect of campaign to include violence in domestic care.
Assessment of the impact of the Council of Europe Campaign
The Task Force will partly base its assessment of the impact of the Council of Europe Campaign to combat Violence against Women, including Domestic Violence on the following indicators. Please respond by ticking on the boxes.
1. Is any and every act of violence against women criminalised in your country?
YES x NO q
For details cf questionnaire for the implementation of Rec(2002)5
2. Is violence committed by a partner or former partner punished more severely than violence among strangers (eg. gender based violence as such or the abuse of power will be considered an aggravating circumstance)?
YES q NO x
The relationship between victim and offender is in principle an aggravating circumstance
3. Are victims enabled to seek justice in a human manner (eg. specialised courts on domestic violence, specialised units within the police, the public prosecutor or the judiciary)?
YES x NO q
cf questionnaire for the implementation of Rec(2002)5
4. Does a national emergency 24/7 help-line exist free of charge for victims of domestic violence in your country?
YES q NO x
5. Have safe shelters been set up for victims of domestic violence in an adequate ratio in your member state? 1
YES x NO q
cf questionnaire for the implementation of Rec(2002)5
6. Is administrative data being collected on victims of domestic violence?
YES x NO q
cf questionnaire for the implementation of Rec(2002)5
7. Is domestic violence considered as a human rights violation to be addressed in your legal system?
YES x NO q
Note 1 The Blueprint of the Council of Europe Campaign recommends a ratio for one place in a woman’s shelter per 7.500 inhabitants.