Overwegingen bij COM(2022)105 - Bestrijding van geweld tegen vrouwen en huiselijk geweld

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dossier COM(2022)105 - Bestrijding van geweld tegen vrouwen en huiselijk geweld.
document COM(2022)105 EN
datum 8 maart 2022
 
(1)The purpose of this Directive is to provide a comprehensive framework to effectively combat violence against women and domestic violence throughout the Union. It does so by strengthening and introducing measures in the following areas: the definition of relevant criminal offences and penalties, the protection of victims and access to justice, victim support, prevention, coordination and cooperation.

(2)Equality between women and men and non-discrimination are core values of the Union and fundamental rights enshrined, respectively, in Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union and in Articles 21 and 23 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (the ‘Charter’). Violence against women and domestic violence endanger these very principles, undermining women and girls’ rights to equality in all areas of life.

(3)Violence against women and domestic violence violate fundamental rights such as the right to human dignity, the right to life and integrity of the person, the prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the right to respect for private and family life, personal data protection, and the rights of the child, as enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

(4)This Directive should apply to criminal conduct which amounts to violence against women or domestic violence, as criminalised under Union or national law. This includes the criminal offences defined in this Directive, namely rape, female genital mutilation, the non-consensual sharing of intimate or manipulated material, cyber stalking, cyber harassment, cyber incitement to violence or hatred and criminal conduct covered by other Union instruments, in particular Directives 2011/36/EU 36 and 2011/93/EU 37 of the European Parliament and of the Council, which define criminal offences concerning the sexual exploitation of children and trafficking of human beings for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Lastly, certain criminal offences under national law fall under the definition of violence against women. This includes crimes such as femicide, sexual harassment, sexual abuse, stalking, early and forced marriage, forced abortion, forced sterilisation and different forms of cyber violence, such as online sexual harassment, cyber bullying or the unsolicited receipt of sexually explicit material. Domestic violence is a form of violence which may be specifically criminalised under national law or covered by criminal offences which are committed within the family or domestic unit or between former or current spouses.

(5)The measures under this Directive have been designed to address the specific needs of women and girls, given that they are disproportionately affected by the forms of violence covered under this Directive, namely violence against women and domestic violence. This Directive, however, acknowledges that other persons may also fall victim to these forms of violence and should benefit from the measures provided for therein. Therefore, the term ‘victim’ should refer to all persons, regardless of their sex or gender.

(6)Due to their vulnerability, children who witness violence against women or domestic violence suffer a direct emotional harm, which impacts their development. Therefore, such children should be considered victims and benefit from targeted protection measures.

(7)Violence against women is a persisting manifestation of structural discrimination against women, resulting from historically unequal power relations between women and men. It is a form of gender-based violence, which is inflicted primarily on women and girls, by men. It is rooted in the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for women and men, generally referred to under the term ‘gender’.

(8)Domestic violence is a serious social problem which often remains hidden. It can lead to serious psychological and physical trauma with severe consequences because the offender typically is a person known to the victims, whom they would expect to be able to trust. Such violence can take on various forms, including physical, sexual, psychological and economic. Domestic violence may occur whether or not the offender shares or has shared a household with the victim.  

(9)In light of the specificities related to these types of crime it is necessary to lay down a comprehensive set of rules, which addresses the persisting problem of violence against women and domestic violence in a targeted manner and caters to the specific needs of victims of such violence. The existing provisions at Union and national levels have proven to be insufficient to effectively combat and prevent violence against women and domestic violence. In particular, Directives 2011/36/EU and 2011/93/EU concentrate on specific forms of such violence, while Directive 2012/29/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council 38 lays down the general framework for victims of crime. While providing some safeguards for victims of violence against women and domestic violence, it is not set out to address their specific needs.

(10)This Directive supports the international commitments the Member States have undertaken to combat and prevent violence against women and domestic violence, in particular the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) 39  and, where relevant, the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (‘Istanbul Convention’) 40  and the International Labour Organization’s  Convention concerning the elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work, signed on 21 June 2019 in Geneva.

(11)Violence against women and domestic violence can be exacerbated where it intersects with discrimination based on sex and other grounds of discrimination prohibited by Union law, namely nationality, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation. Member States should therefore pay due regard to victims affected by such intersectional discrimination, through providing specific measures where intersecting forms of discrimination are present. In particular, lesbian, bisexual, trans, non-binary, intersex and queer (LBTIQ) women, women with disabilities and women with a minority racial or ethnic background are at a heightened risk of experiencing gender-based violence.

(12)Victims of violence against women and domestic violence are at an increased risk of intimidation, retaliation, secondary and repeat victimisation. Particular attention should thus be paid to these risks and to the need to protect the dignity and physical integrity of such victims.

(13)Rape is one of the most serious offences breaching a person’s sexual integrity and is a crime that disproportionately affects women. It entails a power imbalance between the offender and the victim, which allows the offender to sexually exploit the victim for purposes such as personal gratification, asserting domination, gaining social recognition, advancement or possibly financial gain. Many Member States still require the use of force, threats or coercion for the crime of rape. Other Member States solely rely on the condition that the victim has not consented to the sexual act. Only the latter approach achieves the full protection of the sexual integrity of victims. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure equal protection throughout the Union by providing the constitutive elements of the crime of rape of women.  .

(14)Rape should explicitly include all types of sexual penetration, with any bodily part or object. The lack of consent should be a central and constitutive element of the definition of rape, given that frequently no physical violence or use of force is involved in its perpetration. Initial consent should be withdrawable at any given time during the act, in line with the sexual autonomy of the victim, and should not automatically imply consent for future acts. Non-consensual sexual penetration should constitute rape even where committed against a spouse or intimate partner.

(15)With regard to offences amounting to rape, offenders who have been previously convicted of offences of the same nature should be obliged to participate in intervention programmes to mitigate the risk of recidivism.

(16)In order to address the irreparable and lifelong damage female genital mutilation has on victims, this offence should be specifically and adequately addressed in the criminal laws. Female genital mutilation is an exploitative practice that pertains to the sexual organs of a girl or a woman and that is performed for the purpose of preserving and asserting domination over women and girls and exerting social control over girls and women’s sexuality. It is sometimes performed in the context of child forced marriage or domestic violence. Female genital mutilation may occur as a traditional practice which some communities perform on their female members. It should cover practices undertaken for non-medical reasons. The term “excising” should refer to the partial or total removal of the clitoris and the labia majora. “Infibulating” should cover the closure of the labia majora by partially sewing together the outer lips of the vulva in order to narrow the vaginal opening. The term “performing any other mutilation” should refer to all other physical alterations of the female genitals.

(17)It is necessary to provide for harmonised definitions of offences and penalties regarding certain forms of cyber violence. Cyber violence particularly targets and impacts women politicians, journalists and human rights defenders. It can have the effect of silencing women and hindering their societal participation on an equal footing with men. Cyber violence also disproportionately affects women and girls in educational settings, such as schools and universities, with detrimental consequences to their further education and to their mental health, which may, in extreme cases, lead to suicide.

(18)The use of information and communication technologies bears the risk of easy, fast and wide-spread amplification of certain forms of cyber violence with the effect of creating or enhancing profound and long-lasting harm for the victim. The potential for such amplification, which is a pre-requisite for the perpetration of several offences of cyber violence defined under this Directive, should be reflected by the element of making certain material accessible, through information and communication technologies, to a ‘multitude’ of end-users. The term ‘multitude’ should be understood as referring to reaching a significant number of end-users of the technologies in question, thus allowing for significant access to, and potential further distribution of that material. That term should be interpreted and applied having regard to the relevant circumstances, including the technologies used to make that material accessible and the means these technologies offer for amplification.

(19)Especially due to its tendency for easy, swift and broad distribution and perpetration, as well as its intimate nature, the non-consensual making accessible of intimate images or videos and material that depict sexual activities, to a multitude of end-users, by means of information and communication technologies, can be very harmful for the victims. The offence provided for in this Directive should cover all types of such material, such as images, photographs and videos, including sexualized images, audio clips and video clips. It should relate to situations where the making accessible of the material to a multitude of end-users, through information and communication technologies, occurs without the victim’s consent, irrespective of whether the victim consented to the generation of such material or may have transmitted it to a particular person. The offence should also include the non-consensual production or manipulation, for instance by image editing, of material that makes it appear as though another person is engaged in sexual activities, insofar as the material is subsequently made accessible to a multitude of end-users, through information and communication technologies, without the consent of that person. Such production or manipulation should include the fabrication of ‘deepfakes’, where the material appreciably resembles an existing person, objects, places or other entities or events, depicting sexual activities of another person, and would falsely appear to others to be authentic or truthful. In the interest of effectively protecting victims of such conduct, threatening to engage in such conduct should be covered as well.

(20)Cyber stalking is a modern form of violence which is often perpetrated against family members or persons living in the same household, but also perpetrated by ex-partners or acquaintances. Typically, technology is misused by the offender to proceed to intensify coercive and controlling behaviour, manipulation and surveillance, thereby increasing the victim’s fear, anxiety and gradual isolation from friends and family. Therefore, minimum rules on cyber stalking should be established. The offence of cyber stalking should cover the continuous surveillance of the victim without their consent or legal authorisation by means of information and communication technologies. This might be enabled by processing the victim’s personal data, such as through identity theft or the spying out of such data on their various social media or messaging platforms, their emails and phone, stealing passwords or hacking their devices to access their private spaces, via the installation of geo-localisation apps, including stalkerware, or via stealing their devices. Furthermore, stalking should cover the monitoring of victims, without that person’s consent or authorisation, via technology devices connected through the Internet of Things, such as smart home appliances.

(21)Minimum rules concerning the offence of cyber harassment should be laid down to counter initiating an attack with third parties or participating in such an attack directed at another person, by making threatening or insulting material accessible to a multitude of end-users. Such broad attacks, including coordinated online mob attacks, may morph into offline assault or cause significant psychological injury and in extreme cases lead to suicide of the victim. They often target prominent (female) politicians, journalists or otherwise well-known persons, but they can also occur in different contexts, for instance on campuses or in schools. Such online violence should be addressed especially where the attacks occur on a wide-scale, for example in the form of pile-on harassment by a significant amount of people.   

(22)The increase in internet and social media usage has led to a sharp rise in public incitement to violence and hatred, including based on sex or gender, over the past years. The easy, fast and broad sharing of hate speech through the digital word is reinforced by the online disinhibition effect, as the presumed anonymity on the internet and sense of impunity reduce people’s inhibition to engage in such speech. Women are often the target of sexist and misogynous hate online, which can escalate into hate crime offline. This needs to be intercepted at an early stage. The language used in this type of incitement does not always directly refer to the sex or gender of the targeted person(s), but the biased motivation can be inferred from the overall content or context of the incitement.

(23)The offence of cyber incitement to violence or hatred presupposes that the incitement is not expressed in a purely private context, but publicly through the use of information and communication technologies. Therefore, it should require dissemination to the public, which should be understood as entailing the making accessible, through information and communications technologies, of a given item of material inciting to violence or hatred to a potentially unlimited number of persons, namely making the material easily accessible to users in general, without requiring further action by the person who provided the material, irrespective of whether those persons actually access the information in question. Accordingly, where access to the material requires registration or admittance to a group of users, that information should be considered to be disseminated to the public only where users seeking to access the material are automatically registered or admitted without a human decision or selection of whom to grant access. In assessing whether material qualifies as amounting to incitement to hatred or violence, the competent authorities should take into account the fundamental rights to freedom of expression as enshrined in Article 11 of the Charter.

(24)Victims should be able to report crimes of violence against women or domestic violence easily without being subject to secondary or repeat victimisation. To this end, Member States should provide the possibility to submit complaints online or through other information and communication technologies for the reporting of such crimes. Victims of cyber violence should be able to upload materials relating to their report, such as screenshots of the alleged violent behaviour.

(25)In the case of domestic violence and violence against women, especially when committed by close family members or intimate partners, victims may be under such duress by the offender that they fear to reach out to the competent authorities, even if their lives are in danger. Therefore, Member States should ensure their confidentiality rules do not constitute an obstacle for relevant professionals, such as healthcare professionals, to report to the competent authorities, where they have reasonable grounds to believe that the life of the victim is at an imminent risk of serious physical harm. Similarly, instances of domestic violence or violence against women affecting children are often only intercepted by third parties noticing irregular behaviour or physical harm to the child. Children need to be effectively protected from such forms of violence and adequate measures promptly taken. Therefore, relevant professionals coming in contact with child victims or potential child victims, including healthcare or education professionals, should equally not be constrained by confidentiality where they have reasonable grounds to believe that serious acts of violence under this Directive have been committed against the child or further serious acts are to be expected. Where professionals report such instances of violence, Member States should ensure that they are not held liable for breach of confidentiality.

(26)In order to tackle underreporting in the cases when the victim is a child, safe and child-friendly reporting procedures should be established. This can include questioning by competent authorities in simple and accessible language. 

(27)Delays in processing complaints of violence against women and domestic violence can bear particular risks to victims thereof, given that they might still be in immediate danger given that offenders might often be close family members or spouses. Therefore, the competent authorities should have the sufficient expertise and effective investigative tools to investigate and prosecute such crimes.

(28)Victims of domestic violence and violence against women are typically in need of immediate protection or specific support, for example in the case of intimate partner violence, where the rate of recidivism tends to be high. Therefore, an individual assessment to identify the victim’s protection needs should be conducted upon the very first contact of competent authorities with the victim or as soon as suspicion arises that the person is a victim of violence against women or domestic violence. This can be done before a victim has formally reported an offence or proactively if a third party reports the offence.

(29)When assessing the victim’s protection and support needs, the primary concern should lie in safeguarding the victim’s safety and providing tailored support, taking into account, among other matters, the individual circumstances of the victim. Such circumstances requiring special attention could include the victim’s pregnancy or the victim’s dependence on or relationship to the offender.

(30)In order to ensure comprehensive support and protection to victims, all competent authorities and relevant bodies, not limited to law enforcement and judicial authorities, should be involved in assessing the risks for victims and appropriate support measures on the basis of clear guidelines issued by the Member States. Such guidelines should include factors to be taken into consideration when assessing the risk emanating from the offender or suspect, including the consideration that suspects charged with minor offences are as likely to be dangerous as those charged with more severe offences, especially in cases of domestic violence and stalking. 

(31)Due to their vulnerability to secondary and repeat victimisation, to intimidation and to retaliation, and the fact that they suffer emotional harm that prejudices their development, the victim’s children should receive the same protection measures as those accorded to the victim. Other persons dependant on the victim, such as adults with disabilities or older dependant adults for whom the victim provides care, may experience similar emotional harm and should thus be accorded the same protection measures.

(32)Victims of violence against women and domestic violence are often in need of specific support. To ensure they effectively receive offers of support, the competent authorities should refer victims to appropriate support services. This should in particular be the case where an individual assessment has found particular support needs of the victim. In that case, support services should be able to reach out to the victim even without the victim’s consent. For the processing of related personal data by competent authorities, Member States should ensure that it is based on law, in accordance with Article 6(1)(c) read in conjunction with Article (6)(2) and (3) of Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council 41 . Such laws should include appropriate personal data safeguards that respect the essence of the right to data protection and provide for suitable and specific measures to safeguard the fundamental rights and the interests of the individuals. Where competent authorities transfer victims’ personal data to support services for victims’ referral, they should ensure that the data transferred is limited to what is necessary to inform the services of the circumstances of the case, so that victims receive appropriate support and protection.

(33)Member States should take the necessary measures to ensure the availability of emergency barring, restraining and protection orders to ensure effective protection of victims and their dependants.

(34)Member States should ensure that emergency barring orders may be issued in situations of immediate danger, such as where harm is imminent or has already materialised and is likely to be inflicted again.

(35)Protection orders may include prohibiting the offender or suspect to access certain localities; to approach the victim or dependant closer than a prescribed distance or to contact them, including through the use of online interfaces and to possess firearms or deadly weapons, where necessary.

(36)In order to safeguard the effectiveness of emergency barring, restraining and protection orders, breaches of such orders should be subject to penalties. Those penalties can be of a criminal law or other legal nature and may include prison sentences, fines or any other legal penalty that is effective, proportionate and dissuasive.

(37)Presenting evidence of past sexual behaviour to challenge the credibility and lack of consent of victims in sexual violence cases, especially rape cases, may reinforce the perpetuation of damaging stereotypes of victims and lead to repeat or secondary victimisation. Therefore, without prejudice to the rights of defence, questions, enquiries and evidence concerning past sexual conduct of the victim should not be permitted in criminal investigations and court proceedings.

(38)Given the complexities and gravity of offences of violence against women and domestic violence and specific support needs of victims, Member States should ensure additional support and prevention of such offences is provided by designated bodies. Given their expertise in matters of discrimination on grounds of sex, national equality bodies, set up in accordance with Directives 2004/113/EC 42 , 2006/54/EC 43 and 2010/41/EU 44 of the European Parliament and of the Council, are well placed to fulfil these tasks. Such bodies should in addition have legal standing to act on behalf or in support of victims of all forms of violence against women or domestic violence in judicial proceedings, including for the application for compensation and removal of online illegal content, with the victims’ approval. This should include the possibility of acting on behalf or in support of several victims together. To enable these bodies to effectively carry out their tasks, Member States should ensure that they are provided with sufficient human and financial resources.

(39)Certain offences covered by this Directive involve the increased risk of repeated, prolonged or even continuous victimisation. That risk occurs especially in relation to offences involving the making accessible to a multitude of end-users, through information and communication technologies, of material, resulting from certain offences of cyber violence, considering the ease and speed with which such material can be distributed on a large scale and the difficulties that often exist when it comes to removing such material. That risk typically remains even after a conviction. Therefore, in order to effectively safeguard the rights of the victims of those offences, Member States should be required to take suitable measures aimed at the removal of the material in question. Considering that removal at the source may not always be feasible, for instance because of legal or practical difficulties relating to the execution or enforcement of an order to remove, Member States should also be allowed to provide for measures to disable access to such material. 

(40)Those measures should include, in particular, empowering national judicial authorities to issue orders to providers of intermediary services to remove, or also to disable access to, one or more specific items of the material in question. Those orders should be issued upon a sufficiently reasoned and substantiated request of the victim. Considering the speed with which such material can spread online and the time it can take to complete criminal proceedings against the persons suspected of having committed the relevant offences, it is necessary for the effective protection of the victims’ rights to provide for the possibility of issuing, subject to certain conditions, such orders by means of interim measures, even prior to the termination of such criminal proceedings.

(41)Any such measures to remove or disable access, including in particular such orders, are liable to affect the right and interests of other parties than the victims, such as the persons providing the material, the intermediary service providers whose services may be used and the end-users of those services, as well the general interest. Therefore, it should be ensured that those orders and other measures can only be taken in a transparent manner and that adequate safeguards are provided for, so as to ensure that they remain limited to what is necessary and proportionate, legal certainty is ensured, all affected parties can exercise their right to effective judicial redress in accordance with national law, and a fair balance is struck between all rights and interests involved, including the fundamental rights of all parties concerned in compliance with the Charter. A careful weighting of all rights and interests at stake on a case-by-case basis is particularly important in proceedings for interim measures. Those orders should, as a general rule, be addressed to the specific provider of intermediary services that is best placed to act, in particular so as to limit any possible negative effects for freedom of expression and information.

(42)The provisions of this Directive on orders and other measures for the removal and disabling access to relevant material should leave the relevant rules contained in Regulation XX/YYYY [proposed DSA Regulation] unaffected. In particular, those orders should comply with the prohibition of imposing general obligations of monitoring or active fact-finding and with the specific requirements of that Regulation regarding orders to remove illegal content online. 

(43)Considering the potential importance of material that may be the object of the orders or other measures taken under this Directive to remove or disable access thereto for investigating or prosecuting the relevant offences under criminal law, the necessary measures should be taken to allow the competent authorities to obtain or secure such material, where necessary. Those measures could consist, for example, of requiring relevant intermediary service providers to transmit the material to those authorities or to preserve the material for a limited period that does not go beyond what is necessary. Any such measures should ensure the security of the material, remain limited to what is reasonable and comply with the applicable rules on the protection of personal data.

(44)In order to avoid secondary victimisation, victims should be able to obtain compensation in the course of criminal proceedings. Compensation from the offender should be full and should not be restricted by a fixed upper limit. It should cover all harm and trauma experienced by victims and costs incurred to manage the damages, including among other things therapy costs, impact on the victim’s employment situation, loss of earnings, psychological damages, and moral prejudice due to the violation of dignity. The amount of compensation should reflect that victims of domestic violence may have to uproot their lives in order to seek safety, entailing a possible change of employment or finding new schools for children or even creating a new identity.

(45)Assistance and support to victims of violence against women and domestic violence should be provided before, during and for an appropriate period after the criminal proceedings have ended, for example where medical treatment is still needed to address the severe physical or psychological consequences of the violence, or if the victim’s safety is at risk in particular due to the statements made by the victim in those proceedings.

(46)Specialised support services should provide support to victims of all forms of violence against women and domestic violence, including sexual violence, female genital mutilation, forced marriage, forced abortion and sterilisation, sexual harassment and of various forms of cyber violence.

(47)Specialist support should offer victims support tailored to their specific needs, and irrespective of any official complaint. Such services could be provided in addition to, or as an integrated part of, general victim support services, which may call on existing entities providing specialist support. Specialist support may be provided by national authorities, victims’ support organisations, or other non-governmental organisations. They should be granted sufficient human and financial resources and, where the services are provided by non-governmental organisations, Member States should ensure that they receive appropriate funds.

(48)Victims of domestic violence and violence against women typically have multiple protection and support needs. In order to address these effectively, Member States should provide such services at the same premises, or have such services coordinated through a central contact point. To ensure also victims in remote areas or unable to physically reach such centres are reached, Member States should provide for online access to such services. This should entail setting up a single and updated website where all relevant information on and access to available support and protection services is provided (one-stop online access). The website should follow accessibility requirements for persons with disabilities.

(49)Specialist support services, including shelters and rape crisis centres, should be considered essential during crises and states of emergency, including during health crises. These services should continue to be offered in these situations, where instances of domestic violence and violence against women tend to surge.

(50)The traumatic nature of sexual violence, including rape, requires a particularly sensitive response by trained and specialised staff. Victims of this type of violence need immediate medical care and trauma support combined with immediate forensic examinations to collect the evidence needed for prosecution. Rape crisis centres or sexual violence referral centres should be available in sufficient numbers and adequately spread over the territory of each Member State. Similarly, victims of female genital mutilation, who are often girls, typically are in need of targeted support. Therefore, Member States should ensure they provide dedicated support tailored to these victims.  

(51)Harassment at work is considered as discrimination on grounds of sex by Directives 2004/113/EC, 2006/54/EC and 2010/41/EU. Given that sexual harassment at work has significant negative consequences both for the victims and the employers, advice on adequately addressing such instances at the workplace, on legal remedies available to the employer to remove the offender from the workplace and providing the possibility of early conciliation, if the victim so wishes, should be provided by external counselling services to both victims and employers.  

(52)Member States should ensure that national helplines are operated under the EU-harmonised number [116016] and this number is widely advertised as a public number, free of charge and available round-the-clock. The support provided should include crisis counselling and should be able to refer to face-to-face services, such as shelters, counselling centres or the police.

(53)Shelters play a vital role in protecting victims from acts of violence. Beyond providing a safe place to stay, shelters should provide the necessary support concerning interlocking problems related to victims’ health, financial situation and the well-being of their children, ultimately preparing victims for an autonomous life.

(54)To effectively address negative consequences for child victims, support measures to children should include age-appropriate psychological counselling, together with paediatric care where necessary, and be provided as soon as competent authorities have reasonable grounds to believe that children might have been victims, including child witnesses of violence. In the provision of support to child victims, the rights of the child, as laid down in Article 24 of the Charter, should be a primary consideration.

(55)In order to ensure the safety of children during possible visits with an offender or suspect who is a holder of parental responsibility with rights of access, Member States should ensure that supervised neutral places, including child protection or welfare offices, are made available so that such visits can take place there in the best interests of the child. If needed, the visits should take place in the presence of child protection or welfare officials. Where it is necessary to provide for interim accommodation, children should as a priority be accommodated together with the holder of parental responsibility who is not the offender or suspect, such as the child’s mother. The best interest of the child should be always taken into account.

(56)Victims with specific needs and groups at risk of violence against women or domestic violence, such as women with disabilities, women with dependant residence status or permit, undocumented migrant women, women applicants for international protection, women fleeing armed conflict, women affected by homelessness, with a minority racial or ethnic background, living in rural areas, women sex workers, detainees, or older women, should receive specific protection and support.

(57)Women with disability disproportionately experience violence against women and domestic violence and due to their disability often have difficulties in accessing protection and support measures. Therefore, Member States should ensure they can benefit fully from the rights set out in this Directive, on an equal basis with others, while paying due attention to the particular vulnerability of such victims and their likely difficulties to reach out for help.

(58)Member States should ensure that preventive measures, such as awareness-raising campaigns, are taken to counter violence against women and domestic violence. Prevention should also take place in formal education, in particular, through strengthening sexuality education and socio-emotional competencies, empathy and developing healthy and respectful relationships.

(59)Member States should take measures to prevent the cultivation of harmful gender stereotypes to eradicate the idea of the inferiority of women or stereotyped roles of women and men. This could also include measures aimed at ensuring that culture, custom, religion, tradition or honour is not perceived as a justification for, or a more lenient treatment of, offences of violence against women or domestic violence. Considering that from a very young age onwards, children are exposed to gender roles that shape their self-perception and influence their academic and professional choices as well as expectations of their roles as women and men throughout their life, it is crucial to address gender stereotypes as of early-childhood education and care.

(60)In order to ensure victims of violence against women and domestic violence are identified and receive appropriate support, Member States should ensure that professionals likely to come into contact with victims receive training and targeted information. Trainings should cover the risk and prevention of intimidation, repeat and secondary victimisation and the availability of protection and support measures for victims. To prevent and appropriately address instances of sexual harassment at work, persons with supervisory functions should also receive training. These trainings should also cover assessments regarding sexual harassment at work and associated psychosocial safety and health risks as referred to under Directive 89/391/EEC of the European Parliament and of the Council 45 . Training activities should also cover the risk of third party violence. Third party violence refers to violence which staff may suffer at the workplace, not at the hands of a co-worker, and includes cases, such as nurses sexually harassed by a patient.

(61)In order to counteract underreporting, Member States should also liaise with law enforcement authorities in the development of trainings in particular regarding harmful gender stereotypes, but also in the prevention of offences, given their typical close contact with groups at risk of violence and victims.

(62)Intervention programmes should be set up to prevent and minimise the risk of (repeated) offences of violence against women or domestic violence. The programmes should specifically aim at teaching offenders or those at risk of offending how to adopt non-violent behaviour in interpersonal relationships and how to counter violent behavioural patterns. Programmes should encourage offenders to take responsibility for their actions and examine their attitudes and beliefs towards women.

(63)In order to ensure that victims of the offences of cyber violence contained in this Directive can effectively realise their rights to have illegal material relating to such offences removed, Member States should encourage the cooperation between providers of intermediary services. To ensure that such material is detected early on and tackled effectively and that victims of those offences are adequately assisted and supported, Member States should also facilitate the establishment or use of existing self-regulatory measures of a voluntary nature, such as codes of conduct, including on the detection of systematic risks in relation to such cyber violence and the training of the providers’ employees concerned by preventing such violence and assisting victims.

(64)Policies to adequately tackle violence against women and domestic violence can only be formulated on the basis of comprehensive and comparable disaggregated data. In order to effectively monitor developments in the Member States and fill the gaps of comparable data, Member States should regularly conduct surveys using the harmonised methodology of the Commission (Eurostat) to gather data and transmit these data to the Commission (Eurostat).

(65)Member States should ensure that the data collected are limited to what is strictly necessary in relation to supporting the monitoring of the prevalence and trends of violence against women and domestic violence and design new policy strategies in this field. When sharing the data collected, no personal data should be included.

(66)Any processing of personal data carried out pursuant to this Directive, including the exchange or transmission of personal data by the competent authorities, should be carried out in accordance with Regulation (EU) 2016/679, Directives 2016/680/EU 46 and 2002/58/EC 47 of the European Parliament and of the Council. Any processing of personal data by Union institutions, bodies, offices or agencies should be carried out in accordance with Regulations (EU) 2018/1725 48 , 2018/1727 49 and 2016/794 50 of the European Parliament and of the Council, or any other applicable Union rules on data protection.

(67)Directive 2011/93/EU provides for  criminal offences  concerning the sexual abuse of children. In order to ensure coherence with this Directive as regards the criminal offence of rape, the same degree of protection for children who have reached the age of sexual consent should be ensured and a specific offence should be defined as regards children below the age of sexual consent. Therefore, Directive 2011/93/EU should be amended accordingly.

(68)Since the objective of this Directive, namely to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence across the Union on the basis of common minimum rules, cannot be sufficiently achieved by the Member States but can rather, by reason of the scale and effects of the envisaged measures, be better achieved at Union level, the Union may adopt measures, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity as set out in Article 5 of the Treaty on European Union. In accordance with the principle of proportionality, as set out in that Article, this Directive does not go beyond what is necessary to achieve that objective.

(69)[In accordance with Articles 1 and 2 of Protocol No 21 on the position of the United Kingdom and Ireland in respect of the area of freedom, security and justice, annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and without prejudice to Article 4 of that Protocol, Ireland is not taking part in the adoption of this Directive and is not bound by it or subject to its application.]  OR  [In accordance with Article 3 of Protocol No 21 on the position of United Kingdom and Ireland in respect of the area of freedom, security and justice, annexed to the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Ireland has notified [, by letter of…,] its wish to take part in the adoption and application of this Directive.]

(70)In accordance with Articles 1 and 2 of the Protocol (No 22) on the position of Denmark annexed to the Treaty on European Union and to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, Denmark is not taking part in the adoption of this Directive and is not bound by it or subject to its application.

(71)The European Data Protection Supervisor was consulted in accordance with Article 42(1) of Regulation (EU) 2018/1725 and delivered an opinion on [XX XX 2022],