‘Perpetrators of sexual violence’ against women put on European sanctions list

For the first time, the European Union is imposing sanctions on perpetrators of sexual violence against women. Persons who exclude women are also addressed.

At the initiative of the Netherlands, nine people and three institutions from Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, the occupied part of Ukraine, Myanmar, South Sudan and Syria will be blacklisted from Tuesday. They can no longer hold bank accounts in the EU and are no longer allowed to travel to countries within the EU. People and institutions within the EU are also prohibited from doing business with them.

Women’s rights violations are on the rise. According to the UN, Russian troops use rape as a weapon in the war in Ukraine. At the protests in Iran, security forces targeted the genitals, breasts or eyes of female protesters, doctors in the country saw at the end of last year. The Taliban have banned Afghan girls and women from going to school.

“The disdain for equality and the disenfranchisement that comes out of it are crying out for a reaction,’ says Dutch Minister of foreign affairs Wopke Hoekstra. In Brussels, the Netherlands has campaigned for this new sanctions list, which is deliberately published the day before International Women’s day. “In a number of countries, the perpetrators pass to the order of the day, but the women mentally and physically often have life. We cannot accept that”.

A 2022 UN report identified 49 parties guilty of sexual violence against women, while the EU list lists only twelve names. Whether the names on the sanctions list actually stole money in the EU is not known. So the question is whether the sanctions really affect them.

The names of the people on the sanctions list will only be known on Tuesday to give them no time to divert money from the EU. The institutions that are punished are detention centres in Iran, Syria and Myanmar.