Blocking the EU Directive on Protection from Violence: “A Scandal”


As of: February 7, 2024 2:54 p.m

Germany, among others, has blocked uniform EU-wide standards for the crime of rape. Activist Kristina Lunz initiated an open letter to the Minister of Justice. In the interview she is disappointed.

tagesschau24: They wanted the federal government to agree to a tightening of the EU directive on protection against women when it comes to rape. That didn’t happen – Germany, among others, was against it, citing legal concerns as the reason. Can you understand that?

Lunz: Of course I can understand the concerns. However, I cannot understand why the German Minister of Justice and the Federal Government were not willing to accept other statements and reports.

For example, the European Parliament, the European Commission and various human rights organizations or legal associations such as the German Association of Women Lawyers contradict the statements and legal concerns of Marco Buschmann, the FDP and the federal government.

“So omnipresent and such normality”

tagesschau24: How do you explain that it is not possible to reach a consensus across the EU when one in 20 women in Europe experiences rape?

Lunz: It’s really a scandal. The numbers are immense. According to UN estimates, 1.5 million women are raped in the EU every year.

The violence that women experience in our society is so omnipresent and so normal that even in political structures, in ministries such as the Ministry of Justice, but also in other EU countries, those who would be in a position to change something , clinging to old myths or ideas and not showing the political will to take action against them.

The negotiators at the press conference yesterday were very clear in their words. You said that over the months of negotiations it was shocking to see the ideas about rape that still exist in the minds of many of those who have a say in the negotiations.

To person

Kristina Lunz is co-founder of the Center for Feminist Foreign Policy (CFFP) in London and Berlin. She is committed to a feminist foreign policy. In 2022 she published the book “The future of foreign policy is feminist. How global crises must be solved”.

At the end of January, Lunz initiated an open letter from 100 prominent women to Justice Minister Marco Buschmann. In it, the FDP politician was asked to give up his blockade of the EU directive on the protection of women from violence.

“A historic step was missed”

tagesschau24: And that’s exactly how it was argued: that in many EU states, from a legal point of view, rape is only assumed if the perpetrators actually use or threaten violence. What exactly do you do to counter this?

Lunz: It’s really shocking that in 2024 we still have the idea, which completely contradicts reality, that the victim of rape – and in the vast majority of cases they are women – would have to physically defend themselves against the rapist. If we know from reality, from countless case studies, that the victims often fall into a kind of rigidity in order to simply endure the act. Or that in close relationships where the victim knows the perpetrator, this resistance often does not occur.

A directive that sets minimum standards, as this directive should do, would have to reflect reality and finally make a sustained attempt to really counteract male violence against women.

Standardizing the offense of rape across the EU would have been such an important historic step. And that was missed yesterday – due to countries like Germany, France and Hungary.

“Not willing to talk to us”

tagesschau24: Did Federal Justice Minister Buschmann personally contact you as the initiator of the open letter?

Lunz: Mr. Buschmann preferred to ignore us – which now includes over 150 prominent women from culture, politics and business. There were various attempts to talk to him and his team before the open letter, which were canceled in one case and then denied.

No, there was no willingness to talk to us. There was no willingness to talk to the experts, such as those from the German Association of Women Lawyers, and to accept and acknowledge that there are also other legal explanations, which are supported by more than ten other EU states – and the Commission and Parliament.

If the political will had been there, the German Minister of Justice could have behaved differently and voted differently.

“We’ll stick with it”

tagesschau24: They still have support. What’s next?

Lunz: We will definitely stick with it. The directive stated that there should be a revision in five years. We will contribute our expertise again.

In addition, there are very important feminist and women’s rights policy issues on the agenda in the near future. In a few weeks, for example, the commission on abortion will present its recommendations. And here too we will speak out again and make it clear that for an equal, democratic society, the rights and self-determination of women must not be restricted.

The interview was conducted by Damla Hekimoğlu, tagesschau24. It has been shortened and edited for the written version.

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