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Despite the increased attention to the problem of violence against women, there is still a substantial lack of information and data on the scope and extent of the phenomenon.

This is true also for the European Union, where no comparable data on violence against women exists.

In 2009, the European Parliament called the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) to collect and compile “comparative data on violence against women within the EU” (European Parliament 2009, art. 29). In addition, the Council of the European Union noted in its Council Conclusions of 8 March 2010 that there is no timely, reliable, accurate and comparable data on violence against women at the national and the EU level, and that no detailed EU-level study on violence against women has been carried out.

In 2010, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) commissioned the consortium of UNICRI, HEUNI and national experts a pre-test study in six EU Member States - Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland and Spain - to test the survey questions.

In December 2011, on the basis of the pre-test study results, the FRA has launched the first EU-wide survey on violence against women involving interviews with 40,000 women. FRA commissioned the survey to a consortium of UNICRI, HEUNI under the lead of Ipsos Mori with its network of field local agencies across Europe.

It is a unique EU survey, the first of its kind which aims at resolving the lack of comparable and comprehensive data on violence against women in the 28 countries of the European Union.

The FRA survey fills the gap by interviewing 40,000 women across the 28 EU Member States and collecting data on the extent, frequency and severity of violence against women in the EU, including data on women's access to and experience of police, healthcare and victim support services.

The survey, carried out throughout 2012, involved standardised face-to-face interviews with 1,500 women in each country. The women were randomly selected from the general population. The interviews covered women's ‘everyday' experiences of violence - including physical, sexual and psychological violence, harassment and stalking by current and former partners, and non-partners. The survey also looked at experiences of violence in childhood in order to create a comprehensive picture of women's experiences of violence during their lifetime.

Detailed data on women’s experiences of violence is needed in order to better understand the phenomenon and to develop targeted policies and measures to prevent and combat violence against women.

For the first time such comparable data on women's experiences of violence are available for use by policy makers and practitioners in all 28 EU Member States.

Based on the detailed findings, FRA suggests courses of action in different areas that are touched by violence against women and go beyond the narrow confines of criminal law, ranging from employment and health to the medium of new technologies. The results on the survey were presented on 5 March 2014 in Brussels. For more information, please visit FRA website

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