Covid-19, Gender, New Data

EIGE’s Intimate Partner Violence data collection

8 minute read

By Jessica Rosco and Sophia Lane 1 , European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE)


The European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) defines Intimate partner violence as “any act of physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence that occurs between former or current spouses or partners, whether or not the perpetrator shares or has shared the same residence with the victim”. 2

In light of the Covid-19 outbreak, the need for harmonised data became even more urgent: lockdown measures increased women’s vulnerability, with confinements resulting in a rising number of women reporting domestic abuse across the EU. 3 Ensuring that the problem is adequately measured is therefore essential in order to identify changing patterns of violence in times of crisis.

Specifying the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator, in addition to the type of violence, is crucial to developing tailored policy responses. The EIGE, who are leading administrative data collection and statistical production at the EU-level, have developed 13 indicators to do this, in line with the minimum requirements of accurate data collection established by Directive 2012/29/EU (the Victims’ Rights Directive) and the Istanbul Convention. This work is complementary to broader OECD efforts to address and eliminate violence against women, including the OECD High-Level Conference on Ending Violence Against Women which took place in February, and the Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) which includes pillars related to violence against women.


The 13 indicators, summarised in Figure 1, are sourced from administrative data collected by the police and justice sector of each Member State (and for the UK devolved administrations separately) 4) and validated by relevant public bodies, such as the corresponding national Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Justice or the National Statistics Institute. Indicators 1 to 9 are populated by police records of incidents, while justice records of offenders’ penalties are used to populate Indicators 10 to 13.

Figure 1: The 13 indicators divided by sources and topic

While group a) covers information on intimate partner violence, rape and femicide, group b) breaks down intimate partner violence into physical, psychological, sexual and economic variants. 5 Notwithstanding the utility of this further data disaggregation, it should be noted that this increases the difficulty of retrieving information that comply with the definitions of each form of violence. 6

Physical and sexual gender-based violence is recognised and penalised in all Member States. Psychological violence is recognised in the majority of Member States, while economic violence is not yet recognised as a criminal offence in all cases and there is little public awareness on this form of violence. However, these four forms of intimate partner violence encompass a wide range of offences, 7 many of which are crosscutting and overlap across Member States’ various criminal systems and crime classifications. Data for these are therefore not necessarily comparable, even if available. This highlights the need for accurate mapping of intimate partner violence offences and the harmonisation of crime classifications across Member States, 8 particularly for economic violence, for which a behavioural definition for statistical purposes and public awareness is also needed.


EIGE ensures data comparability for the 13 indicators by applying the following criteria:

  • The offence adheres to EIGE’s definition of intimate partner violence.
  • The statistical unit adheres to EIGE’s definition. For example, if the indicator requires the number of victims, but data are only available on the number of offences, this would not be considered comparable.
  • The gender-affixed component to the statistical unit being counted must adhere to the definition. For example, if the indicator covers the number of women victims (statistical unit), by a male perpetrator, data must at least specify that the victims are women even if, due to a lack of data, information on the sex and age of the perpetrator is not collected.
  • The relationship between the victim and the perpetrator adheres to EIGE’s definition of ‘intimate partner’.

Along with the different legal definitions, recording and reporting practices still vary across Member States affecting data comparability. For example, the police may not always record an offence between intimate partners in some Member States, while in others victims may be less likely to report offences to the police due to stigma and the limited support available to them.

The current reference period for data collection goes up to 2018. However, several indicators present breaks in the time series, as definitions and/or the recording practice in a jurisdiction changed over time.

An overview of the availability and comparability of these data, for each indicator, is presented in Figure 2. On this basis, it is clear that comparable data is limited for most indicators and further work is necessary by countries to collect and share comparable IPV data.

Figure 2: Data availability and comparability of the 13 indicators


EIGE’s indicators on rape and femicide are the most populated in terms of country coverage, with 11 and 14 countries respectively reporting data for 2014-2018. Figure 3 shows that, in 2018, 22 out of every 100,000 women reported rape in Finland, 6 per 100,000 in Germany and 4 per 100,000 in Latvia. Regarding femicide, 122 women were recorded as victims in Germany ([0.3 victims of intimate femicide per 100,000 women]), eight in Latvia (0.9 victims of intimate femicide per 100,000 women) and 18 in Finland (0.8 victims of intimate femicide per 100,000 women).

Figure 3: Bar chart presenting Indicators 8 and 9 for 2018 (rate per 100,000 women)

Note: The number in brackets along the y-axis is the headcount number of women victims for the corresponding Member States.

About EIGE

Gender-based violence affects women disproportionately, as it is a manifestation of the power imbalance between women and men. It affects women’s wellbeing, autonomy and access to opportunities and remains one of the most persistent forms of gender inequality. The eradication of all forms of violence against women, including intimate partner violence, is a declared objective of the EU, and the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) recognises its essential role in supporting Member States in meeting this objective. To inform decision-makers of its scope and make progress in this area, EIGE has identified the role of high-quality and comparable data on gender-based violence as key for ensuring the dignity and protection of EU citizens, in particular, women and girls.

The development of EIGE’s 13 indicators on intimate partner violence marks a key step towards measuring and monitoring the scale of the problem in its complexity. A first round of data collection was started in 2018 and are now included in EIGE’s Gender Statistics Database.

EIGE provides a methodological report on data collection for the 13 Indicators on Intimate Partner Violence as well as a metadata webpage for each indicator, from which it is possible to download country spreadsheets containing information on national recording practices and definitions. The material is complete and transparently reflects the challenges faced during the data collection. It should be used as a support for data users, but also as a starting point to acquiring recommendations and suggestions to enhance the collation.


EIGE’s statistics on intimate partner violence mark the first time administrative data have been collected and released at the EU-level. This constitutes an important step towards raising awareness on the lack of available data and how this impacts the creation of effective EU-wide policies to prevent violence.

The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic further highlight how urgent it is that governments collect data in a harmonised way. Achieving uniformity in the definition and recording practices at the EU-level is fundamental to inform the policy-making process with knowledge on intimate partner violence patterns and trends. It is also critical to monitor the effectiveness of institutional responses.

Gender and statistical training for the police and justice sector is especially paramount to create tailored policymaking. EIGE will continue to support national statistical providers across the EU. This should help build common action to enhance Member States’ statistical capacity. EIGE hopes this will lead to an increased alignment of definitions on intimate partner violence, and ultimately better measurement of the phenomenon.

In general, the first results of this data collation show that further efforts are required, not only to ensure data is collected by the individual Member States, but also that it is publicly available to populate the 13 indicators. Some countries (i.e. Czech Republic, Germany and Slovenia) have made significant efforts to collect and share comparable data. Yet progress remains slow, and comparable data is limited for most of the indicators.

Step-by-step recommendations:

  • Finding common ground: It is necessary to select the offences that would form the basis for administrative data collection on intimate partner violence. A full mapping of these offences in each country, in line with the International Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes (ICCS), is a vital first step for making data comparable across the EU.
  • Recording the necessary information: To increase data comparability, it is important for the judiciary and police to provide the same breakdowns, in particular the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator as well as their sex. It is recommended that all Member States that cannot provide full data adapt their recording systems to provide information on all offences across their national legislation including all the necessary breakdowns. This would also deliver data on the different forms of intimate partner violence, creating a more complete picture of this phenomenon.
  • Publishing data and metadata: Few countries make data publicly available with the breakdowns needed to monitor the response to intimate partner violence. It is recommended that Member States invest in the publication of data, ideally in the form of dynamic databases or detailed cross-tabulations. Considering the diversity of crime statistics across the EU, this should be accompanied with metadata in order to make it usable. EIGE has proposed a reporting tool which will be useful in this regard, as it will inform stakeholders on the type of metadata to provide.
  • Creating synergies between the police and the justice sector: In order to fully assess initiatives to combat intimate partner violence, it is important that the police and justice sectors come together to provide reliable and complementary data. An efficient way of doing this is by integrating databases and recording systems throughout the criminal justice chain. This will create synergies, overcome comparability challenges and discrepancies in recording practices, and will also eliminate the duplication of work for the justice sector.

Intimate partner violence data: EIGE’s work so far

More information available on:


  1. Jessica Rosco previously worked as a trainee at the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) and Sophia Lane is currently a trainee at EIGE. They were supervised and coordinated in this work by Ligia Nobrega and Cristina Fabre respectively, both employees of EIGE.
  2. EIGE’s definition is available in the report on Indicators on intimate partner violence and rape for the police and justice sectors.
  3. For example, reports of domestic violence in France jumped by 32 % in just over a week after the beginning of the lockdown period, while in Lithuania 20 % more domestic violence reports were recorded over a three-week lockdown period than over the same period in 2019.
  4. Three different jurisdictions exist in the UK: England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland. Therefore, the total number of geographical areas covered is 30 (27 Member States + 3 jurisdictions for the UK
  5. The sum of indicators 4, 5, 6 and 7 does not always equal the total number of victims in indicator 1. If a woman is a victim of different-multiple forms/offences, data for indicator 1 may only count what is considered the most serious offence (the Principal Offence Rule). Member State practices differ. For more information, refer to:, p. 11.
  6. See EIGE’s report on Understanding intimate partner violence in the EU: the role of data for the complete definitions of each form.
  7. See, p. 18.
  8. Ibid, Economic violence is the least covered by Member States’ definitions of intimate partner violence or domestic violence. Only half of the Member States include the dimension of economic violence in their legal definition related to intimate partner violence or domestic violence.