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Mental Health Europe (MHE) Press Release on International Women's Day

15 Mar 2012

Putting an end to domestic violence needs commitment, legislation and funds.

Domestic violence is all too often considered a private affair, one frequently kept secret within families.  However, violence against women is a crime and a severe violation of fundamental rights, and recognised as such under International human rights instruments.

Therefore, on International Women’s Day, Mental Health Europe is naming and shaming society’s often passive approach to domestic violence, hoping that battles once fought in the home will now be won in the meeting rooms of European Union (EU) institutions.

The EU needs to commit to further allocating funds for projects on domestic violence, to finally shed light on this shameful practice and help the millions of women victims and survivors.  Furthermore,

Mental Health Europe MHE reiterates its call for an EU strategy on violence against women and supports the demand by numerous organisations for a European Year to end violence against women in the near future.  

Despite common misconceptions, acts of domestic violence are neither scarce, not isolated, as recent statistics show that one in four European women experience domestic violence at some point in their lives.

Moreover, domestic violence is often a gateway to even more serious crimes,  as half of female murder victims are killed by family members, and 35% murdered by their spouses or ex-spouses.

In Europe, seven women die every day from domestic violence perpetrated by men. Women with mental health problems are more likely to become victims of domestic violence, and victims of domestic violence are prone to post traumatic stress disorder, psychosis, depression and attempted suicide. In 2004, the cost of treating mental health problems due to domestic violence in the United Kingdom alone was £176 million.

Therefore, ensuring that specific funding will still be available for fighting domestic violence should be high on the European Commission’s agenda. It is a crucial moment, as from 2014 on DAPHNE, which supports projects on violence against women, children and young people, will be incorporated into a “Rights and Citizenship Programme” currently holding no earmarked funding for projects aiming at combating violence against women. As violence against women has received more political attention in recent years, we are starting to see an improvement in both women’s access to support and in reporting cases of domestic violence. However, recent national statistics also show worrying trends, with the prevalence of domestic violence increasing in young people in Cyprus, and data from the UK proving that one in five young men believes domestic violence to be acceptable.

Intimate partner violence leaves lasting physical and psychological scars on the victims, and women need support to break the spiral of domestic abuse. Equally, society needs the courage to break the cycle of neglect and finally face up to a problem that currently shows no signs of going away.

For more information, please contact MHE Information and Communications Officer Silvana Enculescu

 www.mhe-sme.org 

 

Mental Health Europe - Santé Mentale Europe is a European non-governmental organisation committed to the promotion of positive mental health, the prevention of mental distress, the improvement of care, advocacy for social inclusion and the protection of human rights for (ex)users of mental health services, their families and carers.

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