Women Against Violence Europe

Feminist network promoting human rights of women and children

Violence against Women


How do we define Violence against Women?

Establishing common definitions of violence is a critical component of providing quality services for women and children who have fallen victim to these types of harm. In order to provide quality services and further efforts to eliminate violence against women we should come to a common understanding of the terms used in this form of advocacy, as well as the discourses, legal documents, and theoretical underpinnings evoked with the use of these terms.


Gender-based Violence

The United Nations state that "Gender-based violence is violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately. It includes acts that inflict physical, mental or sexual harm or suffering, threats of such acts, coercion and other deprivations of liberty.”

United Nations (1992): General Recommendation No. 19 on Violence against Women, Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) 11th session, 1992, New York

The Council of Europe states that "'gender-based violence against women' shall mean violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately."

Council of Europe (2011): Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, Chapter I - Purposes, definitions, equality and non-discrimination, general obligations, Pg. 8.

Violence against Women
The Beijing Declaration states that "the term 'violence against women' means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life, and that 'violence against women' is a manifestation of the historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of women’s full advancement.“

United Nations: The Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action, Fourth World Conference on Women Beijing, China 4-15 September 1995, New York 1996 (p. 73 f.).

The Council of Europe states that "'violence against women' is understood as a violation of human rights and a form of discrimination against women and shall mean all acts of gender-based violence that result in, or are likely to result in, physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life."

Council of Europe (2011): Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, Chapter I - Purposes, definitions, equality and non-discrimination, general obligations, Pg. 8.

Domestic Violence
The Council of Europe states that "'domestic violence' shall mean all acts of physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence that occur within the family or domestic unit or between former or current spouses or partners, whether or not the perpetrator shares or has shared the same residence with the victim."

Council of Europe (2011): Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, Chapter I - Purposes, definitions, equality and non-discrimination, general obligations, Pg. 8.