Statement by the High Representative / Vice President Catherine Ashton, Andris Piebalgs, EU Commissioner for Development, and Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

Today we underline our strong commitment to combating violence against women. One in three women suffers some form of violence or sexual abuse during their lifetime. Every year, millions of women and girls become victims of human trafficking.

They end up being exploited in the sex industry and forced into domestic servitude, surrogate motherhood or forced marriage.  This form of slavery also affects hundreds of thousands of women within the EU.

The EU has already strengthened its legislation to combat human trafficking and will continue to provide a strong and unequivocal response to this fundamental violation of women s human rights.

In our foreign policy, we have been inspired this year by the role women played in the Arab Spring. They must remain at the heart of the changes that follow. Elsewhere in the world, we have also made progress.

Next year, for example, a new programme to tackle sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo will be launched.

But we can and will do more.

The EU will continue to work with partner countries and organisations in their efforts to tackle all forms of violence against women and girls.