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New EU directive: Germany committed to strengthening protection of men against violence

30. May 2024

The EU Directive ‘Combating violence against women and domestic violence’ was adopted by the EU Parliament on 24 April 2024. In particular, Article 30 of the directive now explicitly no longer applies only to affected women. The article contains requirements for the establishment of shelters for all victims of domestic and sexual violence.

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The European Commission’s proposal was adopted in a slightly modified form with 522 votes in favour, 27 against and 72 abstentions. According to the proposal, shelters must in future take into account the needs of all victims of domestic and sexual violence in accordance with the EU Victims’ Rights Directive. They should support victims in their recovery by providing safe, easily accessible, adequate and suitable living conditions with a view to returning to an independent life. Shelters must also be provided in sufficient numbers and be easily accessible.

In addition to the provision of shelters, the member states are obliged in particular to adopt an implementation strategy, carry out prevention measures and awareness-raising campaigns, set up a national helpline and provide further training for relevant professionals such as the police and public prosecutors. These legally binding requirements also apply to male victims of domestic violence, as the gender-neutral definition of the term ‘victim’ in Article 2(c) and the scope of application in Article 1(2) of the Directive and Recital 12 make clear.

The new regulations enter into force 20 days after their publication in the Official Journal of the EU. The member states have three years to transpose the provisions into national law. The directive can be viewed here.

The Federal Government, under the leadership of the BMFSFJ, is currently planning the ‘Violence Assistance Act’, which will include a gender-independent right to protection and counselling for all victims of domestic violence. The federal states would be responsible for establishing the corresponding violence protection system, i.e. the needs-based establishment of counselling and protection shelters. By adopting the Violence Assistance Act, Germany could advance the implementation of important provisions of the new directive and at the same time close the current gaps in the protection of men from violence.

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