Friday 25th November 2016: Today, Women’s Aid, the national organisation supporting women and their children affected by domestic violence, launches a new report ‘Behind Closed Doors: Femicide Watch 1996 – 2016’. The Femicide Watch Report is the culmination of 20 years of the Women’s Aid Femicide Monitoring Project. Since 1996, Women’s Aid has, using newspaper records, charted and highlighted violent deaths where the victims are female in the Republic of Ireland. The Femicide Watch shows that a woman in Ireland is more likely to be killed in her own home and by a current or former boyfriend, partner or husband. The organisation is launching the report at a seminar today to mark the UN Day Opposing Violence against Women (25th November 2016). Speakers at the seminar will examine the links between Femicide and domestic violence and what needs to be done to better protect women and children in Irish society. Women’s Aid is calling for greater recognition of the risk factors relating to domestic violence and Femicide and for improvements in multi-agency co-operation around risk assessment and for the introduction of domestic violence homicide reviews.
Speaking at the launch, Margaret Martin, Director of Women’s Aid says:
“Lethal violence is at the most severe end of the spectrum of violence against women. We know where women are killed. We know how women are killed and by whom. And we know why. It is time to act. Femicide must not be accepted as a fact of life. Women should be safe in their homes and in their relationships. And we must recognise the strong connection between the killing of women and domestic violence.”
The report reveals that since the beginning of 1996, 209 women have died violently in the Republic of Ireland. 16 children were killed alongside their mothers. 131 women (63%) were killed in their own homes. Where the cases have been resolved (through the courts or in cases of murder-suicide) 89 women (54%) were murdered by a current or former male intimate partner. Another 54 women (33%) were killed by a male relative or acquaintance. 21 women were murdered by a stranger.
Ms Martin continues:
“Domestic violence kills women. It kills children too. In 2015 we heard over 22,000 disclosures of abuse of women and children. Every day on the Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline we hear from women who live on a knife edge of fear and it would be wrong to underestimate the scale and impact of violence against women. Homicide is the ultimate act of domestic violence. Last year there were 970 threats to kill women, children and family members disclosed to Women’s Aid. There were 579 additional disclosures of assaults with weapons, threats with weapons and being strangled and smothered.”
Many of the risk factors in domestic violence homicide cases overlap with behaviours and tactics used by perpetrators of domestic violence including physical abuse, threats to kill, jealousy, stalking and surveillance and controlling behaviour.
Ms Martin explains that leaving or trying to leave an abusive relationship is often a very dangerous time for a woman.
“Our 20 years of cases shows that 24% of victims were killed by a former partner and in an additional 13 cases, it was noted that the woman had expressed her intention to leave or the killer thought that she would end the relationship. Domestic violence is about power and control and homicide is ultimate and most severe expression of that.”
Women’s Aid believes that increased recognition and management of risk factors for intimate partner homicide would lead to an improved response to domestic violence by the State and its’ agencies.
Ms Martin comments:
“Women’s Aid welcomes the commitment by An Garda Síochána in the Second National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence to pilot risk assessment, focus on the perpetrator of domestic violence and the identification and recording of all crimes with a domestic violence motive. We recommend that these initiatives are fully resourced including resourcing specialist domestic violence services who are a crucial part of both risk assessment and risk management. But we must go a step further by starting the practice of reviewing of all domestic violence homicides. In other jurisdictions, Domestic Homicide Reviews are systematic multi-agency reviews which are understood to be a route to improving both risk assessment and management alongside identifying gaps in policy and practice.”
Lethal violence is at the most severe end of the spectrum of violence against women and the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Dubravka Šimonović, has prioritised Femicide during her time in office. She called for all States to focus on gender-related killing of women by establishing a Femicide Watch. Ireland, with the foresight of Women’s Aid, has 20 years of information. Women’s Aid will submit a copy of this Femicide Watch for Ireland to Ms Šimonović as part of this year’s 16 Days of Action campaign.
Women’s Aid is leading a nationwide moment of remembrance across Ireland at 12.30pm today to remember victims of Femicide in Ireland. In the room, Women’s Aid has created a moving exhibition to mark each woman and child’s life. Ms Martin concludes:
“We publish our Femicide Watch Report after 20 years to pause, and to remember and reflect, on the lives lost to male violence. Each woman murdered is an outrage. An absolute brutal loss of life. There is no greater violation of a woman’s human rights than the right to life itself. Women’s Aid stands in solidarity with families, friends and communities of women murdered and with the many women currently living with abuse. We remember those women murdered but where no perpetrator has been charged and the other cases yet to come to trial. Our thoughts are with their families who are waiting for justice. And we will continue this work to bring to light, what goes on behind closed doors in Ireland.”
The Women’s Aid Behind Closed Doors: 20 Years of Femicide Monitoring Project in Ireland takes place today from 9.30am to 1.30pm at Wood Quay Venue, Dublin 2. Speakers include Minister Regina Doherty, T.D., Linnea Dunne (writer and campaigner), Brenda Power (journalist and broadcaster), Don Hennessy (expert on domestic violence perpetrators) and Det. Superintendent Michael Daly. The Remembrance event will include a specially written piece by Paula Meehan (Ireland Chair of Poetry).
When reporting on domestic violence or Femicide please list the Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900. www.womensaid.ie
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