Proposed EU directive will not include definition of rape

Proposed EU directive will not include definition of rape

Rachel Morrogh

A proposed EU directive on combating violence against women will not address rape after member states failed to reach a consensus on its legal definition.

The European Council took the decision to exclude rape from the forthcoming Directive on Combatting Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence despite the Commission and Parliament proposing to establish a common consent-based definition for the bloc.

France, Germany and the Netherlands voted against the inclusion of a definition along with the traditionally more conservative bloc of Poland, Hungary, Malta, Czechia, Estonia, Bulgaria and Slovakia, according to reports.

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC), which earlier called on the Irish government to press for the inclusion of the “heinous crime” of rape, has described the decision as bitterly disappointing.

Rachel Morrogh, CEO of DRCC, said: “We believe this will deepen and widen inequalities that already exist across Europe. It illustrates that barriers to progress were greater than the courage of some member states to overcome them.

“Including rape in the directive was important for both legal and symbolic reasons and its exclusion sends a clear signal to victims and survivors across Europe that it is not a political priority.”

She added: “DRCC believes that the obstacles to the directive were not insurmountable and therefore the Council’s decision to exclude this crime reflects a concerning belief that rape is an expendable provision.

“Rather than reflecting the backing given by both the EU Parliament and Commission to its inclusion, the heads of state who make up the European Council decided that including rape was negotiable and unnecessary.

“Ultimately, the people most affected are those living in countries that have not legislated for a consent-based definition of rape.

“The inclusion of rape in this directive would have demonstrated that member states stand strong and united for equality and justice and against sexual violence.

“Its omission goes further than a missed opportunity, it sends a very disheartening message to all victims of sexual violence right across the EU.”

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