EU and national level judicial and law enforcement institutions must play a key role in curbing the occurrence of violence against women. Policy-wise, it is essential that these institutions are given the tools to succeed by policymakers. Primarily, this entails opening up channels of cooperation both between justice system institutions themselves and between those institutions and the victims or potential victims of violence.
Increased cooperation between justice system institutions means the sharing of violent crime related data that will allow patterns and trends of violence against women to be identified and pre-empted on an EU-wide scale. It also means ensuring that repeat violent offenders’ criminal records follow them across internal European borders to facilitate quick and appropriate law enforcement and justice system responses to serial offenses wherever they occur.
In the most literal sense, the ability of EU and national level justice systems to work together to identify trends of violence and track repeat offenders can mean the difference between life and death for thousands of women across the EU.
This issue is one reason that MEPs have drafted a set of oral questions for the commission touching on this topic to serve as the basis for a debate in November’s plenary session. Specifically, we will ask for concrete plans to introduce the judicial integration between member states needed to effectively combat violence against women.
Open channels of cooperation mean responsive and proactive reporting procedures that will encourage women to report crimes committed against them and support victims as they seek justice. The responsibility is on us to facilitate crime reporting, not on women to courageously overcome the institutional hurdles put before them in their pursuit of justice.
Only by opening these channels can we hope to reduce the corrosive effects of violence against women in our society.