Friday, March 14, 2014

Global Impact: Results of EU Agency for Fundamental Rights on Violence Against Women

According to, almost half of women in the Netherlands have been victims of sexual assault. This statistic stems from a new report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) on violence against women.

For further data on the FRA methodology, see:

In 2010, the FRA initiated a pilot/pretest study in six EU Member States to test the draft survey questionnaire in a combination of qualitative and quantitative interviews. Work on the full-scale survey started in 2011, and the data collection was completed in September 2012. 

During the project development the FRA consulted a group consisting of various stakeholder groups concerning the issues to be covered in the survey, and a group of violence against women survey research specialists on the details of technical implementation.

The survey interviewed over 40,000 women (approximately 1,500 per country), aged 18-74 years, in the 27 European Union Member States and Croatia. 

The interviews were managed by Ipsos MORI, in cooperation with the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control, affiliated with the United Nations (HEUNI), and the United Nations Inter-regional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), based on an open call for tender and following FRA’s project specifications. 

In each country a representative sample of respondents was drawn either from existing population registers or using the random route method. In both cases only one respondent per household was interviewed, and the interviews were conducted in a private setting with no other people present except the interviewer and the respondent.

The respondents were asked about their experiences of physical, sexual and psychological violence – including sexual harassment and stalking – by partners and other persons. With regard to incidents of violence, the survey asked a series of questions concerning the nature of violence, consequences, and ways in which the victims have coped with the incidents. 

While most experiences of violence that were asked about in the survey referred to the time since the respondent was 15 years of age, the survey also included a section on childhood incidents. Sociodemographical information was collected to enable a detailed analysis of the survey results. The same standardized questionnaire was used.

Forty five per cent of Dutch women acknowledged that they have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence since reaching the age of 15, a figure well above the European average of 33%.

This is the first time that such a widespread survey on violence against women has been conducted in the EU. Data was gathered from interviews carried out across the 28 member states, which asked women about their experiences with psychological, physical and sexual violence.

More than a fifth of the European women surveyed declared that they had endured either physical or sexual forms of domestic violence, yet only 14% of women reported their most severe incident to the authorities.

One in 20 said that they had been raped, some more than once, a number equivalent to over nine million women across the Continent.

Often, rape occurs in marital situations, which can blur the lines as to what is considered assault. Even when it comes to violence outside of the home, only 13% of victims contacted the police following a serious case of assault.

Dutch and Scandinavian figures for violence against women generally surpass the European average.

In the Netherlands, 18% of women reported being the victim of some degree of sexual violence. This is almost the highest rate in Europe, second only to that of Denmark.

In contrast, the average sexual violence rate on the Continent was 11%.

The report does not explain why northern European countries outweigh the southern countries when it comes to instances of female violence. Joanna Goodey PhD, head of research for the agency, notes that these statistics do not necessarily mean that violence is more prevalent in the north.