Legal Definitions in the EU Member States
This resource includes the legal definitions of different types of gender-based violence used in EU Member States, according to their legal terminology and national legislation. It was last updated in 2019 and makes a reference to the United Kingdom as a member state of the European Union.
NetherlandsViolence, JusticeSexual Assault (excl. rape)
He who, by violence or another factuality, or threat of violence or another factuality, compels someone to commit or undergo lewd acts, will be guilty of the offence of factual assault of the dignity and punished with imprisonment of maximum eight years or a penalty of the fifth category.Legal Source:
Criminal Code, Article 246Legal provisions on protection orders:
No legal provision
NetherlandsViolence, JusticeSexual Harassment
Sexual harassment at work: in the Arbowet of 2007 the definition of sexual intimidation has disappeared, but it is seen as one of the factors that can lead to "psychosociale arbeidsbelasting", which literally means psychosocial labour presure. The Arbowet (lid 2, artikel 3) of 2007:“The employer will, in the general labour circumstances policy, have a policy dedicated to the prevention and, when this is not possible, the limitation of psychosocial labour pressure.“.Observations
Sexual harassment outside the workplace is not criminalised as a separate offence in the Netherlands and is only prosecutable in criminal law if it fits other criminal statutes on sexual violence, which means that many of the sexual harassment outside the workplace does not meet criminal legal standards.
He who unlawfully and systematically breaches another person's personal sphere with the purpose of compelling him to do something, not to do or tolerate something or frighten him, is guilty of stalking and will be punished with imprisonment of maximum three years or a penalty of the fourth category.Legal Source:
Criminal Code, Article 285bLegal provisions on protection orders:
The court can impose a contact ban which entails that the offender is no longer allowed to contact the victim (not in person, in writing, by telephone, by e-mail, or any other form of communication). Another option, which can simultaneously be imposed, is the area restraining order, which makes that the offender is no longer allowed to enter the street where the victim lives, or to be present in a certain area. Often, the orders are designed so as to grant maximum safety to the victim during her daily activities, while keeping the restraints on the offender’s freedom of movement to a minimum.
AustriaViolence, JusticeIntimate Partner Violence
Occurs when a person and their children are subject to physical, psychological or sexual violence in their family or are repeatedly persecuted and harassed (stalked).Legal Source:
Security Police Act, Section 38a; Domestic Violence is only indirectly covered under the Criminal Code under various sections that may be applied: Section 75 (Murder), Section 76 (Manslaughter), Section 77 (Murder by Hire),Section 78 (Involvement in Suicide), Section 79 (Infanticide), Section 82 (Abandonment), Section 83 (Bodily Harm), Section84 (Grievous Bodily Harm), Section 85 (Grievous Bodily Harm with Lengthy Recovery Time), Section 86 (Assault with DeadlyConsequences), among others.Legal provisions on protection orders:
Interim injunctions are applied. The police is also obliged to inform intervention centres who in return offer protection for the victims as well as psychosocial and legal advice (Security Police Act, Section 38a).
A rape is committed if the deed has been a coitus or any other form of penetration. The victim of a rape has to be coerced by force, by deprivation of her/his liberty, or by dangerous threat either to perform or to tolerate the coitus.Observations
Aggravated forms of rape exist when the victim gets pregnant, dies, suffers sever injuries or is put in an humiliating state over a prolonged period of time. These aggravated forms of rape are accompanied by higher threats of punishment.Legal Source:
Criminal Code, Section 201Legal provisions on protection orders:
No legal provision
AustriaViolence, JusticeSexual Assault (excl. rape)
Sexual assault occurs when a person is coerced by force or dangerous threat to perform or tolerate a sexual act that does not fall under rape according to Section 201 of the Criminal Code.Observations
Aggravated forms exist when the victim gets pregnant, dies, suffers sever injuries or is put in a humiliating state over a prolonged period of time. These aggravated forms are accompanied by higher terms of punishment.Legal Source:
Criminal Code, Section 202Legal provisions on protection orders:
No legal provision
AustriaViolence, JusticeSexual Harassment
Touching the victim’s sexual characteristics or committing a sexual act in front of the victim.Observations
Sexual harassment requires the victim’s complaint for prosecution.
Sexual harassment at the workplace in the Equal Treatment Act offers a broader definition by penalizing touching other parts of the victim’s body as well as verbal utterance. (Equal Treatment Act, Section 46)Legal Source:
Criminal Code, Section 218Legal provisions on protection orders:
No legal provision
In Austria, stalking is defined as “persistent persecution”. Criminal law distinguishes four types of stalking, for each of them imprisonment up to one year can be imposed: a) trying to come close to the victim, b) contacting the victim by repeated letters, phone calls, emails, or SMS, c) ordering goods or services for the victim using her/his personal data and d) make other persons contact the victim using the victim’s personal data.Legal Source:
Criminal Code, Section 107aLegal provisions on protection orders:
Interim injunctions can be applied on the victim’s request under civil law (EO, Section 382g, Paragraph 1). The police is obliged to inform intervention centres on stalking cases who in return offer protection for the victims.
PolandGeneral legal definitionViolence, JusticeLegal provisions on protection orders:
As for June 2013 no legal definition on Violence Against Women Exists in Polish law
PolandViolence, JusticeIntimate Partner Violence
The physical and psychological ill-treatment of the person related or remaining in the ongoing, unchanging relationship of dependency.
Domestic Violence: Article 2 paragraph 2 of the Counteracting Violence Against Women Act (2010): “one-time or prevalent intentional action or lack of action which violates rights or personal goods of the people mentioned in article 1 (see below), in particular exposing these persons to the of the loss of their life, health, violation of dignity, physical integrity freedom, including sexual freedom, resulting in the loss of physical and psychological health, resulting in suffering and moral injuries to people exposed to violence” Article 2 paragraph 1: family member- should be understood as closest person understood according to article 115 § 11 Criminal Code (6 June 1997 r) or any other person leaving or sharing a household.Observations
Abuse: Criminal Code, Article 207Legal Source:
Criminal Code, Article 207
Whoever, by force, illegal threat or deceit subjects another person to sexual intercourse shall be subject to the penalty of the deprivation of liberty for a term of between 2 and 12 years.Observations
Special circumstances of rape (in the same legal provision):
- If the perpetrator, in the manner specified in § 1, makes another person submit to other sexual act or to perform such an act, he shall be subject to the penalty of the deprivation of liberty for a term of between 6 months and 8 years.
- If the perpetrator commits the rape 1) in common with another person, 2) against a minor under 15 years of age, 3) against an ascendant, descendant, or a person being adopted, or brother or sister, he shall be subject to the penalty of deprivation of liberty for a minimum term of 3 years.
- If the perpetrator of the crime specified in § 1 - 3 acts with particular cruelty, he shall be subject to the penalty of deprivation of liberty for a minimum term of 5 years.
Criminal Code,Article 197Legal provisions on protection orders:
See Criminal Code, Articles 39 and 41a
PolandViolence, JusticeSexual Assault (excl. rape)
If the perpetrator, in the manner specified in paragraph 1, makes another person submit to other sexual acts or to perform such an act, he shall be subject to the penalty of the deprivation of liberty for a term of between 6 months and 8 years.Legal Source:
Criminal Code, Article 197Legal provisions on protection orders:
Criminal Code, Article 39 and 41a