National frameworks in Greece

1. Legislation
2. Law enforcement and protective orders
3. Support for victims
4. Preventive measures
5. Data and research
6. Collaboration with international organisations

1. Legislation

In Greece, the institutional and legal framework for the prevention and treatment of gender and domestic violence has followed a steadily evolving course despite the difficulties and some gaps that exist up to this day.

The main law that defines the criminal behaviours of domestic violence and regulates the treatment of the phenomenon is Law 3500/2006 “On Domestic Violence. Criminal Behaviors – Obligations and Actions of Police Services; Provision of Treatment to Victims”.

As far as the need for cooperation among the competent actors is concerned, except for Law 3500/2006, Law 4531/2018 – which incorporates the Istanbul Convention in the Greek legal system – emphasises the need for cooperation.

The legal framework considers the following persons as potential victims:

  • If they live together, permanent partners and children, jointly or of one of them (Article 1 § 2 c).
  • Former spouses (Art. 1 § 2 c), throughout the period of marital disputes, for acts arising from them.
  • Spouses, parents, first and second-degree relatives by blood and marriage, and their adopted children (Art. 1 § 2 a), regardless of whether they live together or not.
  • If they live together, blood or half-blood relatives up to the fourth degree, and persons whose guardian, legal guardian or foster parent has been appointed as a member of the foster family, as well as any minor person living with the family (Article 1 § 2 b).

Acts of domestic violence classified as misdemeanours are the following:

  • Simple bodily harm and completely slight bodily harm caused by continuous conduct (Art. 6 § 1),
  • Dangerous bodily harm (Article 6 § 2, subparagraph 1),
  • Physical injury to a pregnant woman or to a family member who, for whatever reason, is unable to resist (Art. 6 § 3 subpar. a),
  • Physical injury committed in the presence of a minor family member (6 § 3(b)),
  • Unlawful violence (coercion of the victim; Article 7 § 1),
  • Unlawful threat (causing fear by threat of violence, etc. – Article 7 § 2),
  • Offence against sexual dignity (Article 9 § 1),
  • Offence against the sexual dignity of a minor (Article 9 § 2)
  •  Obstruction of justice (Article 10).

Acts of domestic violence classified as felonies are the following:

  • Grievous bodily harm (Article 6 § 2(b)) with an aggravating circumstance if the perpetrator sought or knew and accepted the result of his/her act (Article 6 § 2(c)),
  • Torture (Article 6 § 4(a)) with aggravating circumstances where the victim is a minor (Article 6 § 4(b)),
  • Rape within marriage (Article 8 § 1),
  • Abuse of indecent assault within marriage (Article 8 § 2)
  • Abuse of a minor in prostitution (Article 24).

Law 3500/2006 provides for the immediate issuance of injunctions such as the restrictive condition of removal of the offender from the family residence, relocation of the offender, and the prohibition to approach the victim’s residence and/or work premises. In addition, domestic violence also serves as a presumption of a strong breakdown of the marriage, which is a prerequisite for a divorce.

Finally, the relevant legislation provides for the obligation of the police authorities to inform the victim of the following:

  • The domestic violence is a prosecutable crime of its own motion and what conduct constitutes a crime under this law.
  • The procedure provided for in this respect (spontaneous procedure, criminal mediation, etc.).
  • The possibility for victims of domestic violence to apply for injunctive relief to temporarily regulate the situation because of the specific incident of violence they have suffered.
  • The possibility of aiding and the competent bodies offering such services.

It should be noted that since 2012 it was provided that no deposit is required for crimes against sexual freedom and economic exploitation of sexual life and crimes of domestic violence (Article 28 § 1 of Law 4055/2012).

2. Law enforcement and protective orders

According to Article 4 of Law 4604/2019 on the promotion of substantive gender equality, prevention and combatting of gender-based violence, the national mechanism for gender equality includes all the services and bodies which are responsible at a central, regional and local level. 

At central level, the national mechanism includes:

  • The General Secretariat for Demographic and Family Policy and Gender Equality (GSDFPGE) which is the government body responsible for planning, the design, implementation and monitoring of policies for the gender equality policies in all areas.
  • The Research Centre for Gender Equality (KETHI)
  • The Ministries’ service units for Gender Equality 
  • The Ombudsman (Equal Treatment Unit)

At regional level, it includes:

  • The Regional Equality Commissions of the regions
  • The Independent Equality Office in each region
  • The Equality Sector of the Union of Regions
  • The Gender Equality Office of the Union of Greek Regions (ENPE)

Αt local level, it includes:

  • Τhe service units for the implementation of social and gender equality policies
  • Τhe Municipal Committees for Equality 
  • Τhe Equality Committee of the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece
  • Τhe Equality Office of the Central Union of Municipalities of Greece

In accordance with Art. 4604/2019 (Article 26) , in the local authorities of the first degree and their legal entities with equality issues supervised by the Ministry of Interior, may be established an organisational unit, entitled “Hostel for battered women”, with the responsibility of providing safe accommodation to women-victims of gender violence, women who suffer multiple discrimination and their children up to the age provided for in the internal regulation of the operation of the hostels.

Τhe types of protection orders for victims of domestic violence are accommodation, psychological and social support.

The legal types of protection are mentioned above.

3. Support for victims

The support services available for victims of domestic violence in Greece are as follows:

  • Τwenty eight (28) counselling centers
  • Eighteen (18) shelters for battered women

Women victims of domestic violence are referred to the shelters on the initiative of the women’s counselling centres, the social services of the municipalities and the services of the National Centre for Social Solidarity (NCS). The institutions transmit as soon as possible the history of the abused women to the scientific staff of the relevant shelter, which creates a file for each incident and recommends to the competent department of the relevant local authority of the first degree the stay or non-stay of the women in the shelter, in order to take a decision.

The shelters provide safe accommodation, psychological and social support from specialised scientific staff and facilitates access to legal advice through referral to the women’s counselling centres of the G.G.I.F. They are open daily, around the clock and throughout the year. The use of the shelters and other protection structures is also provided to foreigners, regardless of whether they have legal documents for their stay in the country.

The scientific supervision and coordination of the counselling centres and shelters of the nationwide network is carried out by the Centre for Research on Equality Issues (KETHI).

  • The direct help line “SOS 15900”, which is addressed to women survivors/victims of violence. It is a nationwide, 24-hour service, open 365 days a year, with a local call charge. The line is staffed by psychologists and social scientists who provide immediate assistance in emergency and urgent cases of violence. The SOS 15900 helpline offers information and telephone counselling services to victims of all forms and types of gender-based violence.

Additionally, the National Centre for Social Solidarity (EKKA) has:

  • two (2) shelters of which are part of the nationwide network and
  • the direct social help line 197.

Finally, the services for preventing and dealing with gender-based violence include the Hellenic Police, the services for dealing with domestic violence, the local prosecution and judicial authorities, as well as public hospitals. Regardless of their specific role and responsibilities, the actors involved in the management of domestic violence cases cooperate with the GSDFPGE and the support structures of the National Network for the Prevention of Violence against Women.

The lack of availability of shelters, by geographical area, in relation to the needs presented, creates problems in the accommodation of women/victims of domestic violence. More specifically, in large urban centres (e.g., Athens and Thessaloniki) it is highly unlikely for a victim in emergency to find immediate accommodation, despite all the efforts made by the professionals. Also, a critical issue is the case of emergency shelters making it necessary to increase the number of emergency shelters. Large cities are more likely to have more support organisations concentrated in them than smaller cities and villages, while the lack of availability of shelters is greatest in the mainland and the islands.

The counselling or psychological support is provided to victims by counselling centres.

In particular, the counselling centres are staffed by special scientific staff of counsellors specialised in the approach of women/victims and provide free information and counselling services to the women who come to them, in the framework of integrated social, psychological, labour and legal support actions.

The direct social help line “SOS 15900” offers telephone counselling services.

In addition, during the accommodation of the victims in the shelters, counselling and psychological support is also provided.

4. Preventive measures

The GSDFPGE issues information notes on its actions and monitors developments on gender-based violence through the Equality Monitor indicators. Following the relevant obligation under the Istanbul Convention, from 2020 it publishes the annual report on violence against women in Greece, while it is responsible for the coordination of the National Council for Gender Equality (NSIF). Finally, it prepares and monitors the implementation of the actions of the National Action Plan for Gender Equality. The GSGE Gender Equality Unit implements public information campaigns, represents the country in international organisations and coordinates the action and liaison of all the bodies active in this field in the country.

The GSDFPGE implements public awareness campaigns and co-funded Programmes and Actions through the NSRF Executive Structure.

In addition, apart from the GGEIDOPIF, training programmes aimed at raising awareness among professionals involved in the fight against domestic violence are also implemented by other governmental organisations (e.g., Greek Police) or non-governmental organisations.

It should be noted that in Greece, there is no specific thematic module on domestic violence officially included in the undergraduate curricula of universities.

According to Article 25 of Presidential Decree 141/2017, the Directorate of Social Protection and Counselling Services has been established within the Organisation of the General Secretariat of Social Protection and Counselling Services, which is responsible for proposing policies, specialised actions and interventions for women who suffer domestic violence in the context of institutional cooperation with central administration and first and second level local authorities as well as NGOs.

5. Data and research

Research on the causes and consequences of domestic violence at national level is carried out by governmental or non-governmental organisations as part of European programmes to address domestic violence but is not ongoing.

Accurate statistical data on domestic violence are published by the Hellenic Police on a regular basis.

In addition, each service of the Network of Structures is obliged to update the electronic system maintained by the General Secretariat of the General Secretariat for the Protection of Personal Data with the data of women victims of gender-based violence to whom it provides services, in accordance with the provisions on the protection of personal data. (Law 4604/2019, Article 28)

Excerpted, published results of research by other governmental organisations, or non-governmental organisations.

6. Collaboration with international organisations

The General Secretariat for Domestic Violence represents the country in international organisations and coordinates the action and the interconnection of all bodies active on the issue of domestic violence in the country.

Greece participates in global initiatives that focus on combating domestic violence to exchange views, experiences and know-how with other participating countries while adopting good practices for the upgrading of the network and the services provided to victims of domestic violence. In addition, it incorporates into its national legal framework both directives and articles of international conventions that it has ratified.

Finally, regarding the monitoring of the phenomenon of domestic violence, it publishes reports and statistics on the country to monitor the phenomenon internationally.

Greece has both signed and ratified the Istanbul Convention (Signature: 11 May 2011, Ratification: 18 June 2018, Entry into force: 1 October 2018). The Istanbul Convention was implemented via Law 4531/2018. This law also adjusts domestic legislation (e.g., Law 3500/2006), in particular, in the field of criminal law, such that it complies with the provisions of the Istanbul Convention.

Law 4531/2018, among others, strengthens the criminal sanctions regarding female genital mutilation, criminalises stalking, enhances the rights of victims of domestic violence, facilitates the implementation of the Istanbul Convention and designates as “coordinating body”, in accordance with Article 10 of the Istanbul Convention, the General Secretariat for Gender Equality of the Ministry of the Interior. In addition, in March 2019, the Greek Parliament adopted Law 4604/2019 on “Gender equality, prevention and combating of gender-based violence.” This law introduces a comprehensive legal framework on gender equality and the elimination of discrimination against women, which has a wide scope.

The amendment of the Criminal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure by Law 4855/2021, tightens the provisions on acts that compromise sexual dignity and freedom at work or in the context of job search, changing the start of the limitation period for crimes against sexual freedom and economic exploitation of sexual life when committed against minors, and generally modernising the provisions of criminal law and aligning them with the European conventions on the protection of the rights of underage and adult victims of criminal activity. Moreover, under Article 38 of Law 4947/2022 ( Article 346 of the Criminal Code), revenge pornography became a criminal offence.

A Memorandum of Cooperation was recently signed by the General Secretariat for Demography and Family Policy and Gender Equality (GSDFPGE) of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and KETHI, the Research Centre for Gender Equality. This is an important step in enhancing collaboration, with the common aim to prevent and respond to gender-based violence as well as to promote the social inclusion and equal treatment of asylum-seekers and refugees, with a focus on women and girls.

The Greek National Action Plan for Gender Equality 2021-2025 focuses on four key priority areas, including preventing and combatting gender-based and domestic violence, equal participation of women in the labour market, equal participation of women in decision-making positions and leadership roles, and gender mainstreaming. The Memorandum will aim to ensure that the needs of refugee women and girls are mainstreamed within the overall national strategy.



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