Gender-based violence costs EU €366bn a year

A new study by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) estimates that violence against women makes up 79 percent of this cost, amounting to €289bn.
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By Lorna Hutchinson

Lorna Hutchinson is Deputy Editor of The Parliament Magazine

09 Jul 2021

The new study by EIGE, an EU agency which promotes gender equality, examines the different costs of gender-based violence, with the biggest cost coming from the physical and emotional impact of the violence (56 percent), followed by criminal justice services (21 percent) and lost economic output (14 percent).

EIGE says that other costs can include civil justice services (for divorces and child custody proceedings, for example), housing aid and child protection.

The study also shows that intimate partner violence, which has increased exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic, makes up almost half (48 percent, at a cost of €174 bn) of the cost of gender-based violence.

But intimate partner violence against women in particular makes up 87 percent of this sum, at a cost of €151bn.

EIGE Director Carlien Scheele said that while human life, pain and suffering do not have a price, being aware of the cost of violence can help EU countries channel money to where it is really needed and where it is most cost-effective.

She said, “The money spent on supporting victims is not enough, with services such as shelters making up just 0.4 percent of the cost of gender-based violence. EU countries need to invest more in activities that prevent violence against women and protect victims.”

“This is both a moral imperative, as well as savvy economics,” she added.

“The money spent on supporting victims is not enough, with services such as shelters making up just 0.4 percent of the cost of gender-based violence. EU countries need to invest more in activities that prevent violence against women and protect victims” Carlien Scheele, EIGE Director

EIGE has calculated the cost of gender-based violence in the EU and in each Member State based on extrapolated data from the United Kingdom. This links the cost of gender-based violence in each EU Member State directly to its population size.

As EIGE’s study includes a review of existing methodologies to calculate the cost of gender-based violence, it says that EU Member States can use this as a building block to design their own domestic cost estimations.

EIGE says that in order to ensure an accurate calculation of the cost of gender-based violence, EU countries need detailed data from public services such as law enforcement and the justice sector. Moreover, as gender-based violence is under-reported, countries also need survey data to get a true idea of the number of victims.

Collecting detailed data on different forms of gender-based violence is an obligation under the Istanbul Convention, which all EU countries have signed and 21 have ratified.

However, Poland announced in July last year that it intended to withdraw from the Convention, citing “ideological provisions in the Convention that we do not accept and consider harmful.” The official withdrawal is still pending.

On July 1, Turkey formally withdrew the Istanbul Convention, prompting condemnation from policymakers and rights groups, who called it “a dark day for women.”

EIGE’s study will be published in August 2021.

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