Speaking in the Dáil, Sinn Féin Louth TD and party leader Gerry Adams praised the Safe Ireland Summit on Domestic Violence and accused the government of not giving this issue the priority it requires.
Teachta Adams asked the Taoiseach when the long overdue Consolidated Domestic Violence Bill and the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime Bill) Bill will be published. In his reply the Taoiseach said that both would be published this session.
The Sinn Féin leader said:
“The government finally signed the Istanbul Convention last November. This Convention is about fostering a culture in which meaningful changes can take place which can help reduce the incidence of domestic violence, better support victims and bring the perpetrators to justice. Violence against women is a serious problem and the Istanbul Convention is an important instrument in tackling that problem.
However, without the Consolidated Domestic Violence Bill and the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime Bill) Bill coming into effect the Istanbul Convention will not be implemented and the protections that victims of domestic violence require will not be available. These Bills need to be given the necessary priority.”
Gerry Adams said:
“I want to commend Safe Ireland for organising the Summit on Domestic Violence. This is a hugely important issue which has not received the priority it requires by this or previous governments. We know from research published by Safe Ireland that 1 in 3 women experience severe psychological violence while 1 in 4 experience sexual or physical violence at the hands of their partner.
Over 12,500 women and children have received aid and support from a domestic violence organisation. And we know that as many as 4,000 women and children are being accommodated on a yearly basis in emergency refuge accommodation and they are not being counted and recognised as being homeless.
The report of the Courts Services also recorded a 35 per cent increase in applications for safety and protection orders over the past five years, with domestic violence in total increasing year on year.
Clearly the government has been failing to meet the challenge posed by domestic violence. Minister Coveney’s Housing Action plan contained only a short paragraph on domestic violence. And the absence of any firm commitment by government to increase funding for domestic violence refuges, step down accommodation and other support services is also extremely worrying. As is the lack of capacity in emergency refuges.”
The Women’s Aid’s annual Impact Report was published earlier this year. The statistics make stark reading.
- 60% of abuse starts before the age of 25.
- 42% of reported abuse occurred within a marriage.
- 55% of women murdered in this state (1996-2016) were killed by their partners or ex-partners.
- 81% of abuse disclosed in 2015 happened in an intimate relationship.
- 12% of Irish women and girls over the age of 15 have experienced stalking, with 50% being stalked physically and online.
- There were 1,602 disclosures of financial abuse in 2015.
- Emotional abuse can include being controlled, manipulated, being isolated from family and friends, name-calling, being blamed for the abuse. Other incidences can include being woken at night causing sleep deprivation or being accused of being a bad parent or partner.
- Physical abuse can include being beaten, bitten, spat at, thrown, kicked, threatened with a weapon or household item, or being locked in the house or car.
- Sexual abuse can include being drugged and raped while unconscious, being forced to carry out painful or humiliating sexual acts, or feeling you cannot say no to sex without fear.
- Financial abuse can include having your salary or welfare payments controlled, being left with debt in your name as the abuser is not paying the mortgage, or bills taken out in their name, being left without resources as the abuser has spent the household income.
- Of the 5,966 reports of child abuse made to Women’s Aid in 2015, 5,582 were disclosures of emotional abuse and 281 of the disclosures related to physical or sexual abuse by the same person as the mother’s abuser.