Domain of violence

Violence against women is one of the most pervasive crimes of our time. It takes many forms, including physical, sexual, psychological and economic. It can occur among intimate partners, in broader domestic, professional and public settings, and in virtual spaces. Ageing, living with a disability, being a foreigner and other life circumstances can increase women’s vulnerability to gender-based violence.

Freedom from violence and stereotyping is a key pillar of the 2020–2025 EU gender equality strategy[1]. The EU strategy on victims’ rights (2020–2025)[2] pays particular attention to the specific needs of victims of gender-based violence, building on the victims’ rights directive[3]. In 2017, the EU signed the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (the Istanbul Convention)[4]. The EU’s accession to the Convention is a key priority for the Commission.

The domain of violence is considered an additional domain of the Gender Equality Index. Its particular status stems from conceptual and statistical considerations[5]. Violence against women is the most coercive manifestation of gender inequalities. It is a major cause and consequence of the structural inequalities women face in employment, income, education, power distribution, unpaid care and health. Therefore, it has an essential place in gender equality debates and monitoring. However, the domain of violence statistically focuses on violence against women, not gender gaps, and is treated differently to the other Index domains.

The domain is based on a stand-alone three-tier structure of measurement (EIGE, 2017a). It enables monitoring of the extent of various forms of violence against women, determination of contextual factors for inter-country comparison and evaluation of developments over time in the EU:

  1. A composite measure combines indicators on prevalence, severity and disclosure of the most common and widely criminalised forms of violence against women (physical violence, sexual violence and femicide). Based on data collected by FRA in 2012 (FRA, 2014), the EU composite measure score was 27.2 out of 100 (the higher the score, the greater the level of violence against women) (EIGE, 2017a). An update of this score will be available in 2024 following the completion of the next survey on violence against women led by Eurostat[6], complemented by a FRA and EIGE joint survey[7].
  2.  Additional indicators cover a broader range of forms of violence against women defined in the Istanbul Convention. These forms of violence, for example psychological violence, sexual harassment, stalking and female genital mutilation (FGM), are analysed separately to the composite measure because of a lack of consensus on definitions or a strong policy framework at national or EU level.
  3. Contextual factors are structured around the Istanbul Convention provisions and cover six dimensions: policies, prevention, protection and support, substantive legislation, involvement of law enforcement agencies, and societal framework.