The United Nations defines violence against women as "any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life."
The Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women, also known as the Istanbul Convention, is the first legally binding international instrument on this issue. It establishes a comprehensive framework of measures for preventing such violence, supporting victims and punishing perpetrators. As of August 2021, it has been signed by all EU Member States, and ratified by 21.
The European Parliament first sounded the alarm about the problem of violence against women in a resolution of 11 June 1986. Since then, Parliament has played a particularly important role in the field, including through the work of its Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM).