Nine million women across the EU have been victims of stalking in the last year alone and nearly one in five have experienced it at some point in their adult lives.

Moreover, one in two has experienced sexual harassment since the age of 15, nearly one-third of them in a work environment, while 11 per cent have been subjected to some form of sexual violence, either by a partner or someone else.

The findings emerge from this year’s annual report of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), which looks at developments across the EU in 2014 in areas including violence against women, equality and non-discrimination, hate crimes, child rights and integration of migrants.

As highlighted in the report, Malta recently introduced stalking as a specific offence in the Criminal Code alongside the aggravated offence of stalking involving fear of violence, serious alarm or distress.

The country was also one of the first states to ratify the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention, which sets new standards for responding to victims of gender-based violence.

The report looks at violence against women, equality and non-discrimination, hate crimes, child rights and migrant integration

The FRA has called on all states to go further in developing action plans to combat violence against women on the basis of the evidence contained in the report as well as other data drawing directly on women’s experiences.

On migration, the report highlights the record number of migrants who died in the Mediterranean this year as well as a fourfold increase in those rescued or apprehended at sea.

The worrying public discourse surrounding migrant integration is also mentioned.

Specifically referring to Malta, it cites concerns raised by the UN Human Rights Committee over reports of racially motivated violence and racial discrimination against migrants.

It recommends that the authorities systematically investigate, prosecute and punish offenders.

“Under-reporting and under-recording are the main barriers to effective data collection on hate crime,” the report states.

“A key component is whether victims of hate crime feel they can approach the police to report the incident. If the police encourage victims to report incidents and treat them with dignity, victims are more likely to come forward and the number of recorded incidents is likely to increase,” it adds.

It notes that Malta is one of the few countries which “adopted and implemented concrete measures, such as training for public officials and civil servants dealing with migrants”.

The FRA report recommended that states should consider offering more legal possibilities for people in need of international protection to enter the EU as viable alternatives to risky irregular entry.

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