Aug 24

Study to identify possibilities for standardising legislation across the EU on violence against women and children and sexual-orientation-based violence

The study included a mapping of legislation against the three forms of violence in the EU Member States, an overview of relevant international minimum standards for protection against these forms of violence and recommendations to the EU institutions and governments of the Member States on how to enhance the effectiveness of work to combat these forms of violence.


Violence against women (VAW), violence against children (VAC) and sexual–orientation-based violence (SOV) include elements of interpersonal violence, inequality and human rights. These three forms of violence put fundamental rights in jeopardy.

The Member States of the European Union have a broad spectrum of laws relating to VAW, VAC and SOV. This project aimed to assess the possibilities and opportunities of and needs and potential hurdles to standardising legislation across these three fields of violence for EU Member States, with the purpose of enhancing the effectiveness of combating VAW, VAC and SOV.


The research included the following steps, which form both the empirical keystones of the study and the outcomes of the project. In the first stage of the project there was a mapping and analysis of relevant legislation on VAW, VAC and SOV and its implementation across the EU Member States. As a next step relevant (international) minimum standards relating to the three fields of violence were mapped and developed into a set of minimum standards providing the highest attainable compliance with existing human rights obligations of the EU and its Member States. Simultaneously, the project explored which law and policy-making methods would be necessary and appropriate in order to implement these standards.

Part of the study was also an assessment of current research knowledge on the factors and conditions which are conducive to the perpetration of VAW, VAC and SOV. An interactive visual model was produced which showed the interplay between factors. Finally, the conclusions and recommendations of the study covered the feasibility of standardisation at the EU level and also offered a guide to EU Member States seeking to prevent and protect against VAW, VAC and SOV as part of their human rights obligations.

Report(s) / events

The project resulted in a comprehensive report with five technical annexes. One of these annexes is a matrix which provides an overview of relevant legal provisions in force in the EU Member States, an overview of existing relevant international standards and proposed additional standards, a glossary of proposed terms, research working definitions and an explanatory document and bibliography.

Another product of the project is the model of factors at play in the perpetration of VAW, VAC and SOV. This included an introduction to the model, the model itself (factor and path model), a review of relevant research, a description of factors and possible interventions and a manual. The report, its annexes and the model have been translated in German and French and are available under related publications at the right hand side of this page.

Main findings

The main report of the study concludes that, depending on the field of law and nature of the required legal or administrative action, the EU has a legal basis on which to act and to harmonise or coordinate policy development and implementation at the level of the EU and by the EU Member States. Where this is not the case, the study identified steps that can be taken by the EU Member States themselves to prohibit violence, to provide adequate protection and to ensure redress.

Although all EU Member States have ratified the international human rights instruments which oblige them to combat VAW, VAC and SOV, the implementation of general and specific legislative measures is frequently inadequate. The study recommended a comprehensive approach comprising different measures in different areas of law as well as for different administrative, social and educational measures.



Feasibility study to assess the possibilities, opportunities and needs to standardise national legislation on gender violence and violence against children (2010)

Osnabrück University (UniOS , in cooperation with the Deutsches Institute für Jugendhilfe und Familienrecht (DIJuF)), Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit (CWASU) – London Metropolitan University the International Victimology Institute (INTERVICT) – Tilburg University

European Union Member States

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