Sex without consent is rape

STOP violence ©CanStockPhoto rosselladegradi

(2 February 2024) EPSU, together with the ETUC, has expressed serious concerns to the Belgian Presidency of the EU regarding ongoing negotiations on the draft Directive combatting violence against women and domestic violence. EPSU is appalled to learn that a necessary majority of EU Member states is not willing to settle behind a common and harmonised approach of the criminalisation of rape, based on lack of consent. This raises concerns about the European Union’s commitment towards a “Union of Equality”.

Action is required more than ever to bring justice to all victims and survivors of gender-based violence. EPSU urged the Presidency not to settle for anything less than the criminalisation of rape based on lack of consent, as part of the Directive. In the same vein, the introduction of sexual harassment in the world of work as a criminal offence needs to be urgently restored during the ongoing negotiations on the text. In addition, EPSU calls for strong stance on preventing and combatting gender-based violence in the world of work, which must include for the purpose of the draft Directive, sexual harassment, third-party violence, domestic violence and cyber violence.

Women workers across Europe need to be sure that their safety in the world of work is not a bargaining chip and that employers will be required to fully meet their duty of care, including towards victims and survivors of domestic violence. It is of utmost importance that trade unions will be able to play their part here, engaging with employers in social dialogue and collective bargaining to make workplaces safe spaces.