Today, Women’s Aid, the national organisation supporting women and their children affected by domestic violence, launches a new report ‘Femicide Watch 2017 (Republic of Ireland)’. The report outlines details of eight women who have died violently in the Republic of Ireland this year. Six women were killed in their own homes. This year has also seen 6 murder trials before the courts relating to the murder of women. The 2017 Report builds on the work of the Women’s Aid Femicide Monitoring Project which started in 1996. Since then, using newspaper records, the organisation has charted violent deaths where the victims are female. The Femicide Watch 2017 shows that women are more likely to be killed in their own homes and by someone known to them. In over half of all cases, women were killed by a man that they had a current or previous intimate relationship with. The 2017 report also shows that in cases of manslaughter, intimate partners are more likely to serve 3 years less in prison that other men who kill women.
The organisation is launching the report at a seminar today on the eve of the International Day Opposing Violence against Women (25th November). Speakers at the seminar will address issues relating to the prosecution of domestic violence and domestic femicide cases, the links between domestic violence and intimate partner homicide including the danger time of separation, risk assessment and best practice for domestic homicide reviews and risk assessment in other jurisdictions.
In the report and at the seminar, Women’s Aid will set out a series of challenges to Government to improve the safety of women and children including new measures for a Domestic Homicide Review mechanism, multi-agency risk assessment and risk management for women and children and greater recognition of the risk to women and children’s well-being. The organisation also says that when offences such as physical violence, including homicide, psychological abuse, sexual violence and stalking, are carried out by an intimate partner that intimate relationship should be considered an aggravating factor when it comes to sentencing.
Margaret Martin, Director of Women’s Aid says:
“When women call Women’s Aid and tell us that they are afraid for their lives, we believe them. We know just how dangerous domestic violence can be. Lethal violence is at the most severe end of the spectrum of domestic abuse. We know where women are killed. We know how women are killed and by whom. It is time to act. Femicide by an intimate partner must not be accepted as a fact of life for women. 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, 216 women have died violently in the Republic of Ireland. 16 children were killed alongside their mothers. 137 women (63%) were killed in their own homes. Where the cases have been resolved (through the courts or in cases of murder-suicide) 95 women (56%) were murdered by a current or former male intimate partner. Another 20 women (12%) were killed by a male relative and in 35 cases (20%) women were killed by a man who was known to them. 21 women (12%) were murdered by a stranger.
Ms Martin explains:
“The Women’s Aid Femicide Watch challenges and dispels the belief that women are at high risk from ‘stranger danger’. 88% of women are killed by men known to them. The men who kill women are their boyfriends, their husbands and partners. In many cases they are sons, neighbours and friends. Domestic violence kills women. It kills children too. In 2016 we heard over 20,000 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 646 threats to kill women, children and family members disclosed to Women’s Aid. There were 522 additional disclosures of assaults with weapons, threats with weapons and being strangled and smothered. We also recorded 352 disclosures of stalking and 195 reports of assault during pregnancy.”
Risk factors for intimate partner femicide can include a history of physical violence and also a pattern of emotional abuse and controlling behaviour. 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, abuse during pregnancy, jealousy, stalking and surveillance and controlling behaviour. In 2016, Women’s Aid heard 11,000 disclosures of emotional abuse and controlling behaviour and we know that leaving or trying to leave an abusive relationship is often a very dangerous time for a woman.
Ms Martin says:
“Separation doesn’t always mean safety for women and children. It can be a time of high risk for women experiencing domestic violence with 24% of women being killed by a former partner. In an additional 15 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 femicide 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 outlines:
“As a matter of urgency we must start 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. These mechanisms are crucial to increase safety for women and their children and hopefully reduce the numbers of lives lost because of domsetic violence.”
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 over 20 years of information. Women’s Aid will submit a copy of this Femicide Watch 2017 (Republic of 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.
Ms Martin concludes:
“We publish our Femicide Watch Report 2017 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 International Day Opposing Violence against Women Seminar takes place today from 9.30am to 1.30pm at Wood Quay Venue, Dublin 8. Speakers include Margaret Martin (Director of Women’s Aid), Gillian Dennehy (Standing Together London), Frank Mullane (Advocacy After Fatal Domestic Abuse) and Pauline Walley, SC. The event will be chaired by Alison O’Connor, journalist and broadcaster.
When reporting on domestic violence or Femicide please list the Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900. www.womensaid.ie
For further information contact Christina Sherlock on 087 919 2457 or by email Christina.firstname.lastname@example.org
Photographs from the event will be made available by Paul Sharp/Sharppix from lunchtime, Friday 24th November 2017. Email email@example.com or call 086 6689087.
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