Victim Support Europe was invited by the European Parliament’s Directorate-General for External Policies of the Union to the Parliamentary Conference ‘Maghreb en mouvement : de la criminalisation des violences faites aux femmes à la mise en œuvre’ in Tunis, Tunisia. The conference focused on violence against women (VAW) and the local legislative initiatives on the issue in Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Egypt. The conference was organised and supported by UNDP, UNWomen, the European Parliament and the Tunisian parliament.
The conference was attended by experts on rights and support to victims of gender based violence (GBV) as well as representatives from UNDP, UNOCHR, UNFPA, and the European Parliament. Parliamentarians of Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Egypt also represented their respective parliaments.
Victim Support Europe was invited to present the initiatives of the European Union on VAW and protection. An Verelst, VSE’s policy officer, presented a range of victims oriented legislation the EU has adopted. She presented the EU Victims’ Rights Directive and shed light on the implications and potential this Directive has to improve rights, support and protection for victims of gender based violence. In her speech, An stressed the importance of implementation of laws to meet the actual needs of victims.
Interesting keynote speeches were made by Sarah McCook (The Equality Institute) on the global situation of GBV and the international guidelines for protection, Mariana Katarzova (RAW WAR) on the state of legislation and reality of protection in the European Union, Nadya Khalife (Women’s Rights Consultant) on the regional situation of legislation, politics and practices to enhance protection against GBV, and the Fundamental Rights Agency on violence against women in Europe.
The message shining through the speeches of all experts and highlighted by Stefan Krauss of the European Parliament was that violence against women is an issue we share across the world. Therefore sharing experiences and combining forces to fight gender based violence is crucial.
Nadya Khalife and Marta Vallejo presented an illuminating regional multi-country study on women’s access to justice and related laws and reforms, changes to law enforcement practices and initiatives that also protect and fulfil the human rights of women and girls. The first phase of the study provided an overview of legislation related to violence against women (penal law, family law and labour law) in the different Arab States. The comprehensive study enabled an in-depth discussion between parliamentarians and experts laying the groundwork for future consultation and collaboration to ensure legalisation and implementation promoting gender justice programming to combat GBV in the Arab States.
The European Member of Parliament Inés Ayala Sender of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament presented her recommendations for the region.
The UNDP also presented an overview of recommendations for the different countries and stressed the importance of planting seeds for stronger gender justice programmes.
Victim Support Europe was honoured to be invited as an expert to the Regional Parliamentary Conference supporting a process for stronger Gender Justice Programmes. We look forward to further collaboration and to providing expertise to support better laws and initiatives for victims of gender based violence.