The government must do more to ensure the number of women murdered goes down. That will require a joint approach, said the national network for Veilig Thuis and the national network for Women’s Shelter in a call on International Women’s Day. Parliamentarians from D66, GroenLinks, and ChristenUnie supported the call to the Cabinet to reduce the number of femicides.
According to estimates, a woman is murdered in the Netherlands every eight days, said the organizations that help victims of domestic violence. “Almost always by her husband or ex. Often because a woman wants to leave the relationship or indicates her boundaries in some other way.” They’re also launching a campaign with the slogan #NietÉenMeer (not one more).
They want the Ministries of Justice and Security and Public Health to start working on five action points. The authorities must quickly respond to reports, said Veilig Thuis and Women’s Shelter. “In the case of a report involving serious domestic violence, it is unthinkable that the authorities sometimes only make contact after six weeks.” Victims must be able to report more securely, with their anonymity guaranteed. “In general, we call on the national government to work on a criminal law that focuses more on protecting the victim and less on the perpetrator.”
The organizations also want more efforts to improve the registration of femicide, better recognition of signals, and improved prevention with the help of neighborhood teams, general practitioners, and education. Affected women need low-threshold access to assistance, for example, by opening more drop-in centers. Veilig Thuis’s chat function on its hotline must also be available 24/7 instead of only during office hours.
According to Judith Kuypers of the national network of Veilig Thuis, to which 25 organizations are affiliated, femicide is not yet sufficiently on the Cabinet’s agenda. Femicide is not yet a well-known concept in the Netherlands, she said. “A lot of people don’t know what it is.” According to Kuipers, femicide is still taboo in our country. “Here, people think: what happens behind the front door is private.”
Other European countries pay more attention to femicide. “There are already many demonstrations against it in Spain and France,” said Kypers. She knows that those countries have made progress with their approach to this crime. “You see, for example, that women wear a special bracelet and the perpetrators an ankle monitor. As soon as the men come too close to the women, a signal goes off. That is something we can also quickly realize here.”
Various parliamentarians supported the organizations’ call. D66 MP Hanneke van der Werf called it “important that we better recognize signals” that indicate possible violence. “A murder often has a longer run-up. If a woman reports partner violence, for example, her safety must come first, and the report must be treated with priority.” She agrees that the training of police and first responders needs to be improved.
ChristenUnie leader Mirjam Bikker called it “too horrible for words” that a woman dies by violence in the Netherlands every eight days. “That is unimaginable, it affects me, and it should affect us all.” She said this approach requires something from everyone, “from neighbor to community police officer, from politicians to the judiciary.” She hopes the Cabinet will make “serious work” of the organizations’ call.
GroenLinks also supports the call. “Research shows that femicide is preceded by clearly recognizable patterns and signals. The police and judiciary must be enabled with the capacity and expertise to catch those signals in time to prevent femicide,” said MP Corinne Ellemeet.
Reporting by ANP
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