Tackling violence requires more comparable data

Woman going to police station

Violence against women is happening in all corners of the EU but we still do not know its full extent. More reliable and comparable data are urgently needed to ensure that policy responses to violence are as effective as possible.

EIGE’s new project on improving administrative data takes the Institute’s previous work on the topic one step further. It aims to improve the availability, quality and comparability of data collected by police and justice services on intimate partner violence and rape.

Administrative data shed light on cases of violence that might otherwise go undetected. “If a woman goes to the police to report that she has been raped, the crime should be registered. Then if the matter goes to court, the justice system should also record the case and the outcome. These types of records are what we call administrative data. They provide a better understanding of the demand for services by victims, the response by police and justice and the effectiveness of prevention and protection measures”, explained Barbora Holubova, gender-based violence researcher at EIGE.

All EU countries collect administrative data but to varying extents and in different ways. For this reason, important information is often missing, such as the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator, which is crucial to identify cases of intimate partner violence. In addition, definitions of violence are different in each country, making it difficult to compare data across the EU. For example, only five Member States refer to intimate partner violence when describing violence between partners. In 10 Member States, the word ‘domestic violence’ is used and the term ‘family violence or ‘violence in the family’ is used in another 12 Member States. Furthermore, this information is often collected in different ways. For example, some administrative data sources count only solved cases (Sweden), while others count each incident (Germany).

More reporting of violence would lead to increased reliability of information. “Many women do not come forward to report violence because there is still a lot of stigma and social acceptance around it. Sometimes victims are blamed for the violence and some might not yet have established trust in the police and justice” said Barbora Holubova.

Currently, EIGE is organising meetings with all Member States and national authorities responsible for data collection on violence against women. After discussing gaps and challenges, EIGE will propose country-specific recommendations that take into account the legal context of each country. The recommendations aim to improve and harmonise data collection methods and assist countries with their regular reporting duties, for example to Eurostat, and for reporting requirements under the Victims’ Rights Directive and the Istanbul Convention. Ultimately, they will support EU efforts to eradicate violence against women.

For more information, please contact Barbora Holubova, barbora.holubova@eige.europa.eu

Read more about EIGE’s work on administrative data here

Have a look at EIGE’s good practices on administrative data here

Image © European Union 2013 - Source EP