In Europe, 33% of women have suffered some form of sexual violence since the age of 15. Many women are victims of abuse and violence whose magnitude is underestimated by the national authorities.

These are the conclusions of a report produced in March 2014 by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.

Faced with this unacceptable situation, the Socialists and Democrat's MEPs will ask for strong measures to prevent violence against women across Europe during a debate this afternoon in Strasbourg.

S&D Group's spokesperson for the committee on women's rights and gender equality, Belgian MEP Marie Arena, said ahead of this afternoon's debate:

"Today is the International day for the fight against violence against women. Nothing can justify that one in three women is a victim of sexual abuse and / or physical violence.

"It is high time that Europe adopts a more proactive policy with regard to this abuse happening in our society. We call for the ratification of the Istanbul Convention by all EU countries; a legal framework to combat violence against women as requested by the Parvanova report voted early 2014. We also call for urgent actions to raise awareness of this abuse such as a 'European year for combating violence against women'.

Tomorrow, Dr. Mukwege who has treated thousands of women who have suffered as victims of rape and other violence, will receive the Sakharov Prize from the president of the European Parliament. We commend his fight against violence against women and his courage."

Note to editors:

The Council of Europe's Istanbul Convention on action against violence against women came into force on 1 August 2014. To date, 14 member states of the Council of Europe have ratified the convention and only 8 EU member states (Austria, Denmark, France, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain and Sweden).

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