Violence against women and animal abuse. Groundbreaking EU legislation

24 kwietnia 2024

On April 24 of this year. The European Parliament voted a Directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence. This is the first EU legislation against gender-based violence and a great success of this parliamentary term.

Dr. Sylwia Spurek, MEP 2019-2024, as the only rapporteur of the draft Directive from Poland, fought for the Directive’s regulations to be as comprehensive and progressive as possible, to address cross discrimination, the specifics of violence against LGBTIQ+ people, migrant women, refugees, people with disabilities. She also fought for articles on cyberbullying and inclusion of the criminalization of rape based on the concept of consent.

Of the nearly 200 amendments that Dr. Sylwia Spurek submitted at the parliamentary stage, several dealt with violence against pets and the link between domestic violence and violence against animals. This is because studies show that 76% of perpetrators of violence against animals, also abuse their family members. What’s more, perpetrators use so-called „surrogate violence. This is violence that involves abusing the victim by inflicting pain on someone important to them. And so-called companion animals, companion animals, are often used by perpetrators to exert control over the victim. Animal abuse can also be a tool of psychological violence against human victims, including children, when the perpetrator harms an animal.

During the difficult negotiations, many of Dr. Sylvia Spurek’s proposals were rejected. In a compromise text, she managed to win a reference to companion animals in the preamble. In paragraph 39 of the preamble, the directive notes the need to take into account the use of pets to pressure the victim in assessing the victim’s needs. This is the first time that these two phenomena, domestic violence and violence against pets, have been linked in the EU legal system, and perhaps the beginning of a comprehensive fight against both.

Credit: European Parliament