Monday, February 6, 2017

Combating violence against women in the framework of European Union – Egypt cooperation

Violence against women is a priority for the EU, as demonstrated by the fact that there are specific EU human rights guidelines on violence against women. Therefore, the EU-Egypt Action Plan of 2007 (still in force), which was negotiated between the EU and the Egyptian government, includes several commitments relating to VAW, including the commitment to eradicate FGM through legislation and public awareness raising, to fight trafficking of women and to ensure women’s access to health. It also mentions that the EU’s support for Egypt’s efforts to promote gender equality and combatgender-based violence. It further emphasizes the importance of strengthening the support for the National Council for Women, including its periodic review of relevant legislations and recommendations for new legislation. VAW is also a thematic priority in the EU country strategy for human rights in Egypt. On this basis, the EU funds civil society working on these issues. However, the weakness of these EU-Egypt instruments stems from the lack of clear objectives and indicators to assess Egypt’s progress.

Recommendations to the Egyptian government:

Intensify efforts to promote gender equality and combat violence against women in the public and private spheres;
Reform the penal code to punish all forms of violence against women and ensure its implementation to ensure women’s access to justice;
Revise the national strategy on combatting violence against women from June 2015 to include the legislative changes needed to combat VaW;
Investigate sexual violence committed against women since November 2012 and prosecute those responsible; especially, during demonstrations and protests since November 2012 as only once perpetrators were held accountable for such crimes despite the consistency and repetitiveness of these crimes;
Enact legislation to mandate the regular collection of statistical data and research to ensure an adequate knowledge base for effective implementation and monitoring;
Act in accordance with the standards of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and introduce national legislation to protect them from state and non-state actors, to recognize and enable their work;
Create a women’s human rights defender focal point in the relevant ministries, the National Council for Women and the National Council for Human Rights that would address the concerns and violations committed against women human rights defenders and facilitate their work;
Ensure full protection for survivors of all forms of violence against women through shelters and other protection mechanisms, such as hotlines and protection of women in situations of immediate danger;
Provide independent oversight for protection mechanisms as well as rehabilitation and empowerment programs to protect survivors of VAW.

Recommendations to the EU:
Ensure the implementation of its Egypt’s Action Plan, particularly with regard to supporting Egypt’s efforts to promote gender equality and reinforce the fight against discrimination and gender-based violence;
Ensure the implementation of the EU guidelines on Violence against women and girls in its relation with Egypt;
Support measures that comprehensively combat VAW in Egypt, including legislative changes and the work of the Egyptian National Council for Women;
Continue its support to civil society in the fight against VAW, while showing understanding for the challenges on the ground and acknowledging the importance of local initiatives to combat VAW;
Ensure the development of a comprehensives gender profile on Egypt, including on the issue of Violence against Women.

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