R. Amy Elman [https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9548-0366] is Professor of Political Science and the William Weber Chair of Social Science at Kalamazoo College in Michigan. She has received numerous awards for her scholarship, including two Fulbright grants, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a grant from the Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at Hebrew University. She has worked on behalf of women’s rights and against antisemitism domestically and within Europe for over three decades. She has lectured and published widely on the response of states and the European Union to issues of citizenship, migration, violence against women, sex discrimination, and antisemitism. She has published four books, and her most recent one, The European Union, Antisemitism, and the Politics of Denial (University of Nebraska Press, 2014), explores the conditions that precipitated the EU’s efforts to stem antisemitism and she considers the consequences.
Deciphering the European Union’s (EU) commitment to countering violence against women is challenging. To date, much of its response has been rhetorical. This article opens with a brief consideration of the EU’s first few initiatives to counter violence against women before turning to the polity’s enthusiastic endorsement of the Council of Europe’s 2011 Istanbul Convention, which defines such violence as a human rights violation. Not least, it offers a critical analysis of the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency’s 2014 survey on violence against women, the world’s largest international survey of its kind. That inquiry involved 42,000 in-person interviews with a representative sample of approximately 1,500 women (aged 18-74) across all of the EU’s then 28 Member States. After examining the Agency’s survey and its subsequent report in the context of those efforts that preceded it, the article suggests the EU’s rhetoric and related programs for women may conceal the more controversial manifestations of the violence directed at them. For example, the Agency’s survey excluded female genital mutilation from the rubric of violence against women. One finds a similar reluctance on the part of the Agency and other institutional actors across the EU to address the eroticized commodification of violence in prostitution and pornography that pervade the polity’s common market. Despite the EU’s occasional pronouncements to the contrary, it appears violence against women is a human rights violation that the polity deliberately circumscribes and perfunctorily condemns.
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Elman, R. Amy
"The European Union and Violence Against Women: Fundamental Rights and Con Games,"
Dignity: A Journal on Sexual Exploitation and Violence:
3, Article 2.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.uri.edu/dignity/vol5/iss3/2