45 per cent of Dutch women have been assaulted

45 per cent of Dutch women have been assaulted

Almost half of women in the Netherlands have been victims of assault. This statistic stems from a new report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) on violence against women.

Forty five per cent of Dutch women acknowledged that they have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence since reaching the age of 15, a figure well above the European average of 33 per cent.

Violence common, but seldom reported

This is the first time that such a widespread survey on violence against women has been conducted in the European Union. Data was gathered from interviews carried out across the 28 member states, which asked women about their experiences with psychological, physical and sexual violence.

More than a fifth of the European women surveyed declared that they had endured either physical or sexual forms of domestic violence, yet only 14 per cent of women reported their most severe incident to the authorities.

One in 20 said that they had been raped, some more than once, a number equivalent to over nine million women across the continent. Often, rape occurs in marital situations, which can blur the lines as to what is considered assault. Even when it comes to violence outside of the home, only 13 per cent of victims contacted the police following a serious case of assault.

Dutch violence statistics exceed European average

Dutch and Scandinavian figures for violence against women generally surpass the European average. In the Netherlands, 18 per cent of women reported being the victim of some degree of sexual violence. This is almost the highest rate in Europe, second only to that of Denmark. In contrast, the average sexual violence rate on the continent was 11 per cent.

The report does not explain why northern European countries outweigh the southern countries when it comes to instances of female violence. Joanna Goodey, head of research for the agency, notes that these statistics do not necessarily mean that violence is more prevalent in the north.

Instead, she suggests that women in northern countries have more clearly-defined boundaries as to what constitutes sexual and physical violence.

Stricter legislation in some of these countries means that women living in these regions may have a stronger awareness of their rights. As such, they may be more likely to acknowledge male behavior as being unwanted or overly aggressive.

Furthermore, Goodey argues that many cases of violence are alcohol-related and since binge drinking is more common in the northern countries, alcohol involvement may also be a considerable factor.

Report serves as a call to action

FRA director Morten Kjaerum finds the results of the agency’s survey appalling. "33 per cent of European women suffer from violence, which translates to 62 million women," he says. "That's more than the population of Italy."

According to Kjaerum, European society can no longer stand by and allow this to happen. In publicising these results, the FRA is in effect putting out a call to action. Governments, organisations and the alcohol industry can work together to promote positive change and responsible drinking. Something needs to be done and the time to act is now.

Sources: NRC, FRA

Ellen Keith


Ellen Keith

A Canadian with Dutch roots, Ellen has had half her heart in the Netherlands since the day she was born. After years of visits and studying abroad, she finally made...

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