Gender equality: crime and violence
The survey on violence is conducted in all EU Member States based on a common methodology developed by the Eurostat. Survey results show that each fourth female (25.1 %) and each fifth male (19.5 %) aged 18–74 has experienced physical or sexual violence. Prevalence of violence is rather disproportionate between the genders – women more commonly are victims of both intimate partner physical and emotional violence, moreover repeatedly, thus suffer from permanent physical and psychological consequences more often, while men manly are victims of intimate partner emotional violence, and thus permanent consequences are less frequent. However, information in the report COVID-19 Pandemic and Close Partner Violence Against Women in the EU prepared by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) in 2021 indicates that the number of cases of domestic violence has risen during the pandemic when population spent their time in isolation.
Knowing the importance of the topic, EU countries lately are putting greater emphasis on the need to study prevalence of violence against women. The Survey on Gender-Based Violence 2021 covers personal safety and experience with unwanted behaviour at work, in society, partnership, family, and childhood and prevalence of such behaviour in Latvia in breakdown by the type of violence (interpersonal violence (psychological, physical and sexual), sexual harassment at work, stalking, and other violence-related indicators) and various victim and perpetrator characteristics.
In 2021 each fourth female (25.1 %) and each fifth male (19.5 %) aged 18–74 had experienced physical or sexual violence. Among other EU countries, the highest proportion of women who have experienced physical or sexual violence is observed in the Netherlands (41.2 %), Austria (35.7 %), and France (34.5 %), but the lowest in Bulgaria (11.9 %). Breakdown of the data by gender of perpetrator shows a prevailing share of male perpetrators – 88.8 % of males were violent against women and 94.6 % against men, compared to 18.1 % of females violent against women and 11.3 % against men.
Each third women has experienced several types of intimate partner violence (30.1 %, compared to 18.7 % of men). Psychological violence is the most common type of intimate partner violence – 28.8 % of women have experienced it (18.4 % of men). Also among other EU countries, psychological violence has been observed most often - 36.9 % of women have experienced it in Austria, 31.8 % in the Netherlands, and 29.5 % in Lithuania. Physical violence (including threats) has been experienced by 15.4 % of women and 3.4 % of men in Latvia, but sexual violence by 4.4 % of women and 0.4 % of men.
Women more often than men have experienced physical (including threats) or sexual violence more than once – 14.1 % and 2.6 %, respectively.
Experienced violence may permanently damage physical and/or psychological well-being of a person. Physical injury because of physical or sexual violence was caused to 10 % of women, 9 % of women suffered from psychological consequences, and 8.3 % felt that their life was in danger during the violent episode.
Non-partner rape (after the age of 15) was experienced by 2.4 % of women. Among other EU countries, women have most often experienced rape in the Netherlands (7.0 %), France (4.9 %), and Austria (4.1 %). In terms of age, the most often in Latvia it was experienced by women aged 45–64 (3.1 %) and the least by women aged 65–74 (1.2 %), in age groups 18–29 and 30–44 those were 2.1 % and 2.5 %, respectively. Among men this type of violence is not very common, e.g., 0.3 % of men aged 18–29 have experienced it.
Sexual harassment at work
Twice as many women than men have experienced sexual harassment at work – in 2021, 11.0 % of women and 5.1 % of men aged 18–74. This indicator is the lowest in Latvia, but it is the highest among women in France (41.1 %), the Netherlands (40.9 %), and Slovenia (31.7 %). In Lithuania, 19.1 % of women have experienced sexual harassment at work. Experienced physical or sexual violence may have permanent negative influence, as, in addition to the emotional and psychological damage, harassment episodes may limit one’s social engagement. E.g., sexual harassment at work may contribute to avoiding working life activities (especially as regards occupations dominated by the other sex), thus affecting ability to earn income or leading to reduced earnings.
Sexual harassment at work during the last five years was experienced by 4.6 % of women and 3.1 % of men and during the last 12 months by 1.6 % of women and 1.7 % of men.
Both women and men more commonly are sexually harassed by male perpetrators. Out of all sexual harassment victims, 4.1 % of women and 1.8 % of men were harassed by co-worker, 3.7 % and 1.2 %, and 2.1 % and 0.9 % by boss, respectively.
In 2021 stalking was experienced by 10.2 % of women and 6.2 % of men. Stalking may be defined as frequently repeated behaviour that involves harassing someone, causing fear or concern for that person’s safety. This type of violence covers situations when someone followed or spied, tried insistently to be in touch with the victim by waiting or loitering outside home, school or workplace, or sent unwanted messages or gifts. It also covers situations when someone intentionally damages things or belongings of people victim cares about, or harms victim’s animals, makes offensive or embarrassing comments, inappropriate proposals on the internet or social networks, publishes photos, videos or highly personal information about the victim.
Both women and men more commonly are victims of male perpetrators. Among women, 7.9 % were stalked by male perpetrators and 2.0 % by female perpetrators, while among men those were 3.5 % and 2.2 %, respectively.
Stalkers usually are not intimate partners of the victim. In total 2.2 % of women and 0.6 % of men have experienced intimate partner stalking, compared to 8.2 % of women and 5.6 % of men who have experienced non-partner stalking.
¹ Women stalked by intimate partner – per cent of women aged 18–74 ever involved in a relationship
Reporting of experienced violence
In 2021 out of all violence victims aged 18–74, 76.5 % of women and 38.4 % of men reported the violence episode to someone. Physical or sexual violence episodes most often were reported to a close person (68.9 % of women and 32.8 % of men), slightly more than one fourth of women (26.4 %) reported intimate partner violence also to the police. Among men, 7.2 % reported intimate partner violence to the health services (doctor, nurse), social service or called a helpline, contacted another victim support organisation.
Persons who reported violence episode
(per cent of people aged 18–74 having experienced violence)
Women reporting current or last partner violence episode
Women reporting non-partner violence episode
Men reporting current or last partner violence episode
Men reporting non-partner violence episode occurred since the age of 15
Reported to any person or organisation²
health services (doctor, nurse) or social service, helpline or another victim support
² Reported violence episode to any person or organisation. One person may have reported to several other persons or organisations
View table: VDA180
Males more often become victims of aggravated assault: in 2021 out of 90 aggravated assault victims, males accounted for 61 (females for 29). Women, in turn, more frequently become victims of sexual violence, e.g., rape, leading to depravity, etc. sexual crimes. The statistics covers only the registered crimes, therefore actual number of sexual violence victims may be higher. In 2021, 173 sexual violence victims were registered in Latvia (156 females and 17 males).
On 17 February 2022 new mandate allowing to separate perpetrators from violence victims came into force. Taking care of the violence victims who for various reasons refuse to submit written applications for the separation of the perpetrator, it gives State Police the right to make a decision on the separation of the perpetrator without the victim’s written application in cases when it assumes that there is an actual violence risk.
Social rehabilitation of violence victims
Since January 2015 a state-funded social rehabilitation of adult violence victims (prior only of children aged under 18) is available, moreover social rehabilitation is also available to perpetrators.
In 2021, 356 people in Latvia (of which 17 males) underwent such social rehabilitation. Women the most often have suffered from emotional violence (140 cases), as well as combination of several types of violence (163 cases, including 113 cases of physical violence and 37 cases of both physical and sexual violence). Men more commonly have suffered from emotional violence (7 cases out of 17).
Notable gender gap may be observed in the number of offenders and convicted persons. This may point to the need to study reasons behind the male dominance in the crime statistics, which may be caused by differing gender-related experiences in life and gender inequality in various aspects.
In 2021, 88.5 % of all offenders in Latvia were males. Moreover, the trend has remained stable over the past decade. Dominance of male offenders may be observed in all kinds of offences with the largest share in rape (96.4 %), hooliganism (97.0 %), and robbery (94.0 %).
During the past ten years prison population has declined. Significant drop was recorded in the number of imprisoned males – compared to 2010 it fell by half, compared to only one fifth of imprisoned females. In 2022 males accounted for 92.3 % of the total prison population.
Gender Equality Index – violence
Additionally to the six domains of the Gender Equality Index – Power, Time, Knowledge, Health, Money, and Work – European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE) is working on the domain Violence which provides a set of indicators that can help to monitor the extent of the most common and documented forms of violence against women (incidence, severity and reporting). Unlike other domains, the domain of violence does not measure differences between women and men but examines and analyses women’s experiences of violence.
The overall objective is not to reduce the gaps in violence between women and men, but to eradicate violence completely. Today the Istanbul Convention is the most comprehensive international human rights treaty on violence against women and domestic violence. Latvia signed the Istanbul Convention in May 2016 but is yet to ratify it.
Offenders by selected characteristics
Statistics for victims and persons having right to defence – Information Centre of the Ministry of the Interior (in Latvian)
Intentional homicide and sexual offences by legal status and sex of the person involved – Eurostat database
Report on recipients of social rehabilitation services – Ministry of Welfare (in Latvian)
Results of the Survey on Gender-Based Violence conducted in 2021 – publication Prevalence of violence in Latvia
EIGE publication The Covid-19 pandemic and intimate partner violence against women in the EU 2021 – EIGE
Gender Equality Index, domain Violence – EIGE