Majority of women victims of violence in EU do not report abuse, study finds

Estimated 7 per cent of women in EU – 13 million people – experienced physical violence in 12 months before survey

The majority of women in the European Union who are victims of violence do not report their experiences to either the police or victim support organisations, a major study suggests.

Carried out by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), the survey of 42,000 women was billed as the world's biggest such survey.

Outlining the findings, the director of the agency Morten Kjaerum said they showed that physical, sexual and psychological violence against women was “an extensive human rights abuse” in all EU member states.

Most women who were victims of violence did not come into contact with the justice system or other services, the survey said.

Types of abuse
It was therefore clear that the needs and rights of many women in the EU "are currently not being met in practice".


According to the findings, an estimated 13 million women in the union experienced physical violence in the 12 months before the survey interviews – the equivalent of 7 per cent of women aged between 18 and 74 years.

A third of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence since the age of 15. That corresponds to 62 million women in Europe.

About 3.7 million women had experienced sexual violence in the 12 months before the survey. One in 20 women (5 per cent) has been raped since the age of 15.

Some 43 per cent have experienced some form of psychological violence by either a current or a previous partner. Types of abuse included public humiliation, forbidding a woman to leave the house or locking her up, forcing her to watch pornography, and threats of violence.

A total of 12 per cent of women indicated they had experienced some form of sexual abuse by an adult before the age of 15 – equivalent to about 21 million women.

In the EU’s 28 countries, some 18 per cent of women have experienced stalking at some stage since the age of 15.

Suggesting ways forward for policy makers, the rights agency suggested member states develop specific national action plans on violence against women on the basis of evidence that draws directly from women's experiences.

Data collection
"Data on women's experiences of violence should be collected in addition to administrative and criminal justice data, which do not capture the majority of unreported victimisation."

Fiona Neary of Rape Crisis Network Ireland said agencies needed to find ways to cooperate on data collection.