From 25 November to 10 December 2019, we will be using our voices to highlight an issue which is not addressed enough when talking about domestic abuse: men's sexual violence against their partners.
Throughout the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, network members are organizing activities to
- train their programme facilitators in addressing sexual violence in their sessions with perpetrators,
- fight the prejudices towards survivors of sexual violence in relationships and
- shift the focus from women being responsible for their safety to what men can do to ensure a safe and consensual sexual relationship.
Sexual violence in relationships is a crucial, European-wide concern, which is not taken seriously enough by the media, the justice system and by policy makers.
One in five women worldwide will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in their lifetime (WHO 1997), while decades of research have shown that their male partners are more likely to be women’s rapists than any other person (Du Mont et al. 2017). A recent study discovered that this is the case for 64% of European women who experienced sexual violence since the age of 15 (FRA 2014). In many European countries marital rape was legal until the 1990s and later (e.g. AL: 2012/13, BA: 2003, GE: 1997, UK: 1991, AT: 1989/2004, CY: 1994, GR: 2006).
At the same time, rape myths about dark streets, unknown assailants and victim blaming influence the believability of survivors of sexual violence in relationships, keep women from acknowledging they experienced sexual violence (Peterson/Muelenhard 2004), as well as discourage victims with close ties to their assailant to report the crime (Rennison 2002).
Prosecution rates for rape are still abysmally low in almost all European countries (e.g. charges are brought in only one third of reported rape cases in England and Wales, only 8,4% of rape cases lead to a conviction in Germany). Other more subtle types of sexual violence, such as sexual coercion and exploitation, reproductive violence or unwanted exposure to pornography still often go completely unnoticed – especially, if they are perpetrated in relationships.
As part of the 2019 “Responsible Together” Perpetrator Work Campaign, we demand that
- all European governments sign, ratify and effectively implement the Istanbul Convention.
- all regulations on interventions against domestic violence openly and consistently include addressing and gathering data on sexual violence as a form of domestic violence.
- all European countries work to dismantle harmful gender stereotypes and rape myths that keep survivors from receiving the support they need and deserve.