NL #CARVEDaphne – January 2016

The economic cost of gender violence

Male violence against women is a direct violation to human rights, it destroys lives and societies. In Europe, 1 in 3 women will experience at least one episode of physical and/or sexual violence since the age of fifteen. Most of it is carried out by a partner/ex-partner (source 1). Recent investigations at the International, European and national (e.g. in France) levels bring to light the economic cost of gender-based violence.
Companies are not immune. Such violence affects the performance of workers, abusers and victims alike (source 2, source 3), impacting their productivity and their relations with colleagues. Most of the detailed research that offer a valuable insight into the economic consequences and cost of such violence have been led in Australia, Canada, the USA and the UK, and can be relatively extended to France, Greece, Bulgaria, Belgium and Spain. Here is a non-exhaustive description of the consequences, at the workplace, of male violence against women.

Absenteeism: it can be due to various tactics of the abuser to prevent his partner from going to work (e.g. stealing or hiding keys), to the necessity to treat physical and/or emotional and/or injuries, chronic stress problems, and/or to post-traumatic stress disorder (source 4), to the obligation to attend court/legal meetings… Abusers also have a higher level of absenteeism compared to non-abusers.

Reduction of employee productivity: It is clear that all consequences of male violence against women outlined above can result in a loss of employee’s productivity, by affecting their ability to efficiently perform daily routine and work tasks.
Contrary to the idea that domestic violence is confined behind closed doors, abusers are highly likely to adopt an abusive behaviour from their workplace, for instance, by repetitively calling their partner to scare or intimidate her. It is clearly not neutral for the productivity and concentration on work of both.

Safety risks: Men perpetrating abuses against their partner can also present a risk for the safety of their co-workers (source 5). Moreover, not only do they stalk from their workplace, but also threaten the workplace of their victims. For instance, a Canadian research suggests that 70% of victims of partner violence are abused at work at some point, which makes it a concern for every company. Intimate partner violence is a serious form of violence that is the main cause of death for women between the ages of 19 and 44 all over the world (source 6).

This is not a fatality, and companies are relevant actors to address and eliminate gender violence. The first step is to acknowledge the fact that such violence does impact the company, and that many company do employ abusers and/or victims of such violence.

The CARVE project ambitioned to give tools to companies to support their engagement in the elimination of gender-based violence happening outside the workplace.
Altogether with our eight partners representing five European countries, we conducted national researched, interviewed people from the private, public and third sector, and organised seminars opened to the civil society. Our ambition is to foster the involvement of companies in the fight against gender-based violence, by providing them with tools to deal with such a devastating issue. This two years project is co-financed by the ‘DG Justice: Daphne Programme’ of the European Commission.
The national seminars have been led in Bulgaria, Spain, France and Belgium and Greece.
These events will serve to present the outcomes of the national reports and to open a public debate. The outputs of both national reports and workshops will be then used to draft a European Best Practice Guide for companies and politicians to achieve a better vision of the European situation regarding domestic violence in Europe, and the best ways to assist victims. It will be released during a European conference in Brussels on 16th of June 2016.

Picture: “A ribbon made out of flags”, Quinn Dombrovski, 4/10/2012