European justice and interior ministers are gathering information about member European Union (EU) countries’ laws banning the sexual exploitation and violent abuse of women in an effort to develop new guidelines for action that would apply to the entire region. These guidelines would not amount to a single set of laws.
EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Anita Gradin said that such action is long overdue. “Violence against women has been on our national agendas for many, many years, but now we have got this question on the EU agenda,” she said. “In 1999 we will have a campaign against violence against women, and we will do it together with the European Parliament.”
Gradin noted that about 500,000 women are forced into prostitution each year after being lured to western Europe with promises of fictitious jobs. After these women arrive, smugglers confiscate their identification papers, making any legitimate work nearly impossible.
The European Parliament will discuss the sex slave industry and other forms of violence against women on International Women’s Day, March 8, and again later than month.