Today, Thursday 20th November 2014, at 11am, Women’s Aid is holding a minute’s silence outside Dáil Éireann in memory of 78 women murdered by their partners or ex-partners since 1996. 10 children who were murdered alongside their mothers will also be remembered. The event features a sombre display of 78 pairs of women’s shoes and 10 pairs of children’s shoes outside Leinster House that act as the starkest reminder of the dangerous and sometimes fatal nature of domestic abuse.
Speaking at the event, Margaret Martin, Director of Women’s Aid says: “Since 1996, 78 women have been murdered by a current or former intimate partner. Women’s Aid records show that this represents over half of all resolved female homicide cases (53%). With 1 in every 2 women murdered being killed by a current or former boyfriend, partner or husband it is imperative that we act now before more lives are stolen.”
A situation of domestic abuse is a very common context in which female homicide occurs. Women’s Aid believes that increased recognition and management of risk factors for intimate partner homicide would lead to an improved response to domestic abuse by the State and its agencies. Ms Martin explains, “Risk factors for intimate partner homicide include physical abuse, threats to kill, controlling behaviour, stalking and harassment. Separation is also a risk factor for escalating violence and is often the most dangerous time for women in abusive relationships. These types of abuse are disclosed every day by women ringing our National Freephone Helpline.”
Ms Martin continues, “Domestic abuse is a hidden and misunderstood issue in Irish society. One in five women in Ireland experiences domestic violence including physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse. Over 17,000 calls were answered by the Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline in 2013. We listened to women disclose shocking levels of abuse. Many women felt that their situation was not being treated as seriously as it should be. Women spoke of inconsistent responses by State institutions and agencies such as the Courts and Gardaí. These experiences were supported by the recent Garda Inspectorate Report into Crime Investigation which, despite highlighting cases of individual good practice, showed up very serious gaps in the official response to domestic abuse cases.”
Ms Martin says, “Women’s Aid firmly believes that we cannot leave the safety of women and children to chance. It is a very serious crime with very serious and wide ranging outcomes for women and children, the bleakest of which we are highlighting today.”
Women’s Aid says there is much to welcome the recent publication by the Justice Committee of its report on hearings on domestic and sexual violence. This includes the recommendation for Emergency Barring Orders, the creation of the criminal offence of stalking and the call to ratify the Istanbul Convention on Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, all of which Women’s Aid has called for over many years. Ms Martin says, “Many of the recommendations outlined in the Justice Committee report are very commendable and they have the real potential to increase the safety of women and children experiencing abuse. However, there needs to be continued momentum that will push for these changes to be realised, properly resourced and implemented with tangible, long lasting safe outcomes for women and children at risk from abuse. We also welcome the forthcoming National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence as a real opportunity to make significant advances in how Ireland responds to domestic abuse.”
Ms Martin concludes, “Today, Women’s Aid stands outside Dáil Éireann to firmly say that the power to end domestic violence rests here in the hands of the Government and our elected representatives. It must not be wasted. Lives depend on it.”
Memoriam cards remembering the 78 women have been distributed to politicians, media, domestic and sexual violence services and other organisations nationwide. The minute’s silence takes place ahead of the International Day Opposing Violence against Women (25th November 2014) and the start of the Women’s Aid One in Five Women Awareness Campaign.
Women’s Aid National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900, 10am to 10pm, 7 days a week. www.womensaid.ie
For further information contact Christina Sherlock or Sarah Clarkin on 01-678 8858 or 087 919 2457.
Notes to editors/producers: