Right-wing politics, social media fuel anti-woman violence - EU commissioner

by Ellen Wulfhorst | @EJWulfhorst | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 24 April 2019 22:19 GMT

ARCHIVE PHOTO: A woman cries in her apartment in Madrid, Spain, July 24, 2013. REUTERS/Susana Vera

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One in three women in the European Union has experienced physical or sexual violence in the previous five years

By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK, April 24 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Attempts to end violence against women and girls in the European Union are being stymied by a mix of right-wing politics and social media that inflames sexism and stereotypes, a top women's rights official said on Wednesday.

Scant progress has been made in reducing gender-based violence despite legislation, education campaigns, law enforcement and justice systems, said Vera Jourova, the EU Justice and Gender Equality Commissioner, in an interview.

One in three women in the European Union has experienced physical or sexual violence in the previous five years, according to the most recent data by the EU's European Institute for Gender Equality.

"There has not been progress yet," said Jourova, who was in New York to meet with United Nations officials.

"In some states, we even see backtracking with reference to old conservative values, the position that the woman is in the kitchen and the bedroom, to put it simply," she said.

Right-wing political parties tap into fear and anxiety over financial outlooks, technology changes and security threats to promise people a return to better times of the past, she said.

"It's everywhere there are active far-right political parties," she said.

The images of old-fashioned, better times feature persistently negative stereotypes about and toward women "that some kind of violence is inevitable or even normal," she said.

On social media, women are targets of cyberviolence, and the most base views can move swiftly and easily from the internet into powerful political circles, she said.

"Then the rights of women and the rights of LGBT are endangered."

Ending her EU term in October, Jourova has overseen efforts to increase economic activity for women, raise salaries, boost political participation and decrease gender-based violence.

"This is unfinished business," she said. (Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by Jason Fields

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