The need to improve data collection
EIGE plays a leading role in providing information and research on administrative data collection on violence against women across the European Union. It also supports Member States to improve their data collection in this area and meet international legal obligations. EIGE has carried out two studies on the subject and new research will be conducted in 2017:
- The first study (2014): Mapping the current status and potential of administrative data sources on gender-based violence in the EU
- The second study (2016): Terminology and indicators for data collection on rape, femicide and intimate partner violence: EU-wide terminology and indicators
- The third study (2017-2018): Improving police and justice data on intimate partner violence against women in the European Union
In order to inform policy makers and assist the design and implementation of effective policies to combat gender-based violence, it is first necessary to understand the nature and prevalence of the phenomenon. We therefore urgently need comparable data on gender-based violence in all of the 28 EU Member States.
The need for better collection of data related to violence against women has been recognised by the EU, the Council of Europe and, at international level, by the United Nations in their commitment to eradicate violence against women. The European Parliament resolution on the elimination of violence against women (26 November 2009), the Council of the EU’s conclusions on the eradication of violence against women (8 March 2010), as well as the Council conclusions on Combating Violence Against Women, and the Provision of Support Services for Victims of Domestic Violence (6 December 2012) highlight the lack of available and comparable data in this area in the EU.
Data on violence against women can be obtained from different sources, including via sample surveys (as the closest proxy to real prevalence or incident rates), or from administrative institutions dealing with reported cases of violence against women (such as the police, justice, or health and social services). Official statistics are compiled and produced, usually by National Statistical Offices, based on data from surveys and/or administrative sources; but these capture only a fraction of the actual prevalence and incidence of violence against women. The difference between actual prevalence and incidence of violence on one hand, and disclosed violence recorded by sample surveys on the other can be known as the ‘grey zone’, as illustrated below.
Despite its inability to capture the full prevalence of violence, administrative data are important for assessing how public services respond to the needs of women who have experienced violence, and to monitor trends over time.
In 2017 and 2018, EIGE has built on its previous efforts to improve the collection of comparable administrative data on violence against women across the EU. The main objectives of the research were to:
- Assess the quality and availability of administrative data on intimate partner violence (IPV) and rape collected by the police and justice sectors in each EU Member State;
- Assist Member States to provide regular, comparable data and to meet the monitoring requirements of international legal instruments (in particular the Victims’ Rights Directive and the Istanbul Convention).
- Develop common indicators for measuring intimate partner violence and rape, based on EIGE’s proposed statistical definitions, to be used by EU Member States as a step towards obtaining comparable data across the EU.
- Propose a set of indicators to support Member States in their efforts to estimate the costs of IPV for police and justice sectors (based on EIGE’s costs of violence estimation study).
- Organise meetings with each of the 28 Member States to discuss EIGE’s proposed indicators and the challenges in collecting the data required to meet the minimum EU and International monitoring requirements.
- Develop a standardised tool to assist Member States in collecting data to populate EIGE’s proposed indicators on intimate partner violence.
This study established a measure of violence against women through the use of indicators on rape, femicide and intimate partner violence, which will guide methods of data collection to ensure reliable and comparable data on violence against women across the 28 EU Member States. This will support Member States to regularly measure the prevalence and incidence of rape, femicide, and intimate partner violence in a harmonised way.
- To develop definitions for statistical purposes of rape, femicide and intimate partner violence;
- To establish indicators based on harmonised data collection on rape, femicide and intimate partner violence and guided by international agreements made by the EU, UN and Council of Europe;
- Propose recommendations for the EU to further harmonise and collect better quality data on violence against women, including recommendations addressing gaps in the International Classification of Crimes for Statistical Purposes (ICCS).
- Recommendations were developed for Eurostat, including a recommendation to aid the improvement of the International Classification of Crimes for Statistical Purposes (ICCS) to integrate a gender perspective and provide a basis for the introduction of specific codes for crimes related to violence against women. The recommendations can be downloaded here.
- An analysis of the availability of administrative data on rape, intimate partner violence and femicide across the EU, and an evaluation of its quality is summarised in administrative data leaflet. The administrative data leaflet can be downloaded here.
- An analysis of the availability of survey data at EU, international and national levels is summarised in the survey data leaflet.
- A glossary of terminology was produced, providing a comprehensive list of the definitions of rape, intimate partner violence and femicide used at European, international and Member State level. This document also presents the methodology used to develop EIGE’s proposed definitions, and includes details of the proposed definitions themselves. The glossary can be downloaded here.
- An analysis of data collection on female genital mutilation, which includes an overview of definitions and typologies recognised at EU and international levels, analysis of existing national data collection on female genital mutilation and recommendations. This analysis can be downloaded here.
Mapping the current status and potential of administrative data sources on gender-based violence in the EU
The main aims of the study was to map the key administrative data sources and statistical products created from administrative data on gender-based violence in the 28 EU Member States, and also to analyse their relevance, reliability and quality.
The study focused on five classifications of violence against women: intimate partner violence (all types); sexual violence (outside intimate relationship), which includes: rape; sexual assault (excluding rape); sexual harassment; and stalking.
For the purposes of this report, five main sectors were considered: police, justice, health, social services, and a fifth category named “other”. This last sector includes institutions such as Civil Society Organisations, administrative bodies, (i.e. ministries of labour or gender equality) or independent institutions (i.e. ombudsperson) that do not fall under any of the previous categories.
- Administrative data on gender-based violence are not originally or primarily collected for statistical purposes, but for the internal use of the institutions or agencies in order to monitor their activities. They do not measure the true extent of gender-based violence due to unreported incidents. However, they can provide detailed information on how judicial, police, health and social services respond to gender-based violence, which can support the development and assessment of appropriate policies and measures to prevent and combat gender-based violence against women across the European Union.
- Of the 144 administrative data sources identified, the majority record incidents related to intimate partner violence, rape and sexual assault. Fewer sources of administrative data cover sexual harassment and stalking.
- Intimate partner violence is broadly covered by police data sources across 28 EU Member States, followed by justice services and social services (16 Member States in each sector).
- Rape and sexual assault are broadly covered by police data sources (representing 23 and 26 Member States respectively) and justice sectors (representing 20 Member States covering rape and 18 Member States covering sexual assault).
- In half of the Member States the police system is recording the age and sex of victim and perpetrator, as well as the type of relationship between them, which enable the detection of all incidents related to intimate partner violence.
- The use of an internationally accepted coding system within and across sectors would support the harmonisation of data, enabling quick and easy access to, and analysis of, information.
- The majority of statistical products based on administrative data identified in EU Member States collect data on intimate partner violence, rape and sexual assault while stalking and sexual harassment are only covered by a limited number of statistical products.
Gaps in data collection
- Substantial differences in legal definitions of forms of gender-based violence prevent measurement in a comparable way across the EU Member States.
- Criminalised incidents are more likely to be recorded by administrative data sources. Therefore, sexual harassment and stalking are covered by fewer administrative agencies and thus there is less data available on these forms of GBV.
- The regulation and collection of administrative data is hampered by a lack of specific intersectoral mechanisms for, coordinating the process.
- The decentralisation of collecting, coordinating and compiling data on gender-based violence incidents makes comparison of data across different levels difficult.
- Confidentiality rules represent an important obstacle faced by data compilers, especially with information from health and social services.
- The lack of a coding system to register data on violence against women used systematically within and across agencies is a serious limit for harmonisation of administrative data.
- In many Member States administrative data are not disaggregated by sex of victim and perpetrator, type of violence, or by the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator, thus making it difficult to specifically detect incidents of GBV.
- Quality of data in social services needs to be improved in order to collect comparable data related to gender-based violence across the European Union.