We have the tools, let’s find the will - MHE calls on EU to ratify Council of Europe convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence
“Domestic violence affects children differently, based on gender,” said Prof. Magda Michielsens at the “Hitting the Spot – Safeguarding the mental health of victims of domestic violence” conference, organized by Mental Health Europe (MHE) on November 23, as the final event of its “Train, Improve, Reduce” Project. “For young boys, it reinforces the idea that violence means power, while for girls it seriously diminishes their self confidence,” she added.
Where women are concerned, domestic violence does not discriminate. Found in all walks of life, it is not dependent of education, income, or social class, but can increase with age, disability or migration status. Across the European Union (EU), more than 45% of all women have experienced violence perpetrated by men, while it is estimated that every fifth woman has been subjected to domestic violence. It is the most common form of violence against women, and also a major contributor to mental health problems in both women and children. Moreover, research shows that 60% of women who need hospitalization in psychiatric institutions have a history of domestic violence.
Faced with such a poignant and widespread problem, the European Union has a duty to respond. The tools are there - the Council of Europe has developed the Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, which stresses that violence against women seriously violates, impairs or nullifies the enjoyment by women of their human rights, in particular their fundamental rights to life, security, freedom, dignity and physical and emotional integrity. Therefore, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Mental Health Europe is calling on the European Union and its Member States to ratify the Convention, a sign of commitment and political will which could bring a strong impetus to reducing the alarming rates of intimate partner violence found in most EU countries.
Moreover, Mental Health Europe strongly believes that the European Union must commit to assigning mental health as the central topic of a future European Year, an initiative which the European Economic and Social Committee already expressed support for though a draft opinion on November 23. A European Year of Mental Health would not only benefit a vulnerable group often overlooked in the development of EU policies, but could draw significant attention to different reasons for developing mental health problems, such as domestic violence and abuse. It would also promote an integrated approach to tacking mental health problems and help spread the word on existing tools, such as the training on mental health and domestic violence aimed at police officers, which was developed by the MHE Project “Train, Improve, Reduce.”
“It is impossible to tackle domestic violence without taking into consideration the enormous impact it has on the mental health of the victims,” MHE Director Maria Nyman said. “At the same time, we cannot properly address mental health problems without acknowledging that they often stem out of a violent relationship,” Nyman added.
For more information, please contact Silvana Enculescu, MHE Information and Communications Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org