Violence against women in the EU has been largely underestimated to date, reveals a survey by the European Union's Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), presented on 5 March at a high-level seminar in Brussels. Of the 42,000 women polled, one third said they have been victims of physical and/or sexual violence after the age of 15. Just over one in ten reported that they were victims before age 15 of a form of sexual abuse or an act perpetrated by an adult. This represents 21 million women, or twice the population of Belgium.
The results are striking: some 75% of women in professional or senior management positions said they have experienced sexual harassment. The survey also notes the emotional and psychological consequences of physical and sexual violence: 35% have experienced depression as the result of sexual violence and 43% have had difficulties in a new relationship.
The European agency recommends that European and national organisations re-examine ways of dealing with all forms of violence against women, "wherever they occur". It also highlights the need to provide training and sufficient resources for law enforcement, health professionals, employers and specialised victim assistance services, and to ensure that they have the powers to help victims. The FRA suggests that websites and social networks should be more proactive in limiting unwanted behaviour and in helping victims of cyber harassment to report abuse.
The report is available at