Media Release Irish Government Must ‘Step Up to Commitments’ made under the Istanbul Convention, say Women’s Aid.

8 Mar 2019

  • Women’s Aid welcomes Governments ratification of the Istanbul Convention on International Women’s Day 2019 #IWD2019.
  • Ireland joins 33 other countries who have signed and ratified this important measure to combat violence against women.
  • Only effective implementation, including resourcing, will make a very real difference.
  • Making the changes real for women and children and increasing safety is key to its success.
  • ‘8 Facts for March 8’ - Women’s Aid joins in the European wide Step Up! Campaign on International Women’s Day.

Friday 8th March 2019, 10am: Women’s Aid, the national organisation providing frontline support to women experiencing domestic and dating abuse, welcomes the ratification of the Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (also known as the Istanbul Convention).  The Istanbul Convention is an innovative and comprehensive measure to combat violence against women. It establishes a framework for governments to ensure robust action to prevent, investigate and prosecute, and ultimately, eliminate violence against women and girls.  The Convention defines and criminalises various forms of violence against women (including forced marriage, female genital mutilation, stalking, physical and psychological violence and sexual violence). Governments who have signed and ratified the Convention have to provide helplines, refuges, medical care and legal aid for women who have suffered rape or other forms of violence. The Convention also establishes an international mechanism to monitor its implementation at national level.

Margaret Martin, Director of Women’s Aid, says:

“The ratification of the Istanbul Convention is a major milestone in tackling domestic, sexual and gender based violence.  At the heart of any progress there must be the increased safety and protection for women and children affected by domestic violence.  Over the last few weeks, Irish society has heard the personal testimonies of women and families who have been impacted and left bereft by domestic abuse and domestic homicide.  There is an increased urgency and better understanding of the need to prevent violence and to support those affected to access justice.  It’s been a long road to get to this point and there is still much work ahead.” 

The Istanbul Convention includes a gender perspective and is framed around the four pillars of Prevention, Protection, Prosecution and Monitoring. 

Ms Martin says:

“Only effective implementation, including resourcing, will make a very real difference.  Today is International Women’s Day and is also the last day of our Too Into You Campaign which started on Valentines’ Day.  It is worth remembering that one in five women experience some form of domestic abuse in Ireland and our 24hr National Helpline responds to 50 calls a day.  Over the last three weeks nearly 12,000 young women have visited our Dating Abuse website. I am proud of how Women’s Aid has delivered over the last decade on Prevention and Protection with very limited resources.”

 However, urgent movement is need in the effective State prosecution of crimes against women.  Ms Martin explains:

“Now that we have comprehensive and binding legal framework, there is no reason not to prosecute and properly sanction offenders.  An Garda Síochána will have to respond to calls for help, collect evidence and assess the risk of further violence to adequately protect victims.  Judicial proceedings will have to be carried out in a manner that respects the rights of victims at all stages of the proceedings and that avoid secondary victimisation.  And the State will have to account for progressing this implementation of the Convention through a monitoring system that sees a key role for NGOs in providing information on change.  Making the change real for women and children and increasing their safety should be the most important priority.”

Today is International Women’s Day and Women’s Aid is joining with the European wide Step Up! Campaign which is taking action for the rights of women survivors of violence and their children to access support and protection.  Our 8 Facts for March 8 campaign is running on social media is raising awareness of the prevalence and nature of domestic violence and dating abuse and the help available through our 24hr National Freephone Helpline.”

Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900


For more information contact Christina Sherlock, Head of Communications on 0879192357 or by email

Notes for editors/producers:

  • The Istanbul Convention in Brief -
  • Women's Aid is the national organisation providing support and information to women experiencing domestic violence through its Direct Services. It runs the only free, national, domestic violence 24hr helpline (1800 341 900, 24 hours, 7 days) with specialised trained staff & volunteers, accredited by the Helplines Partnership and with a Telephone Interpretation Service covering 170 languages for callers needing interpreting services as well as a Text Service for Deaf and Hard of Hearing women. Women's Aid also offers a Dublin-based One to One Support Service and Court Accompaniment Service and runs the Dolphin House Support and Referral Service in the Dublin District Family Law Court (in partnership with Inchicore Outreach Centre.)
  • Our 24hr National Freephone Helpline provides a listening ear, emotional support and practical information to women experiencing abuse from their current or former male partners. It responds to 50 calls per day.
  • The Helpline is also a gateway into our Dublin based face to face and court support services and to other local independent support and refuges around the country.
  • The Women's Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline answered 18,187 calls in 2017. There were 728 one to one support visits and 255 court accompaniments carried out by its One to One Support Services. An additional 528 drop-in sessions took place at the Dolphin House Support and Referral Service. There were also 1,743 additional support calls by our One to One Services, including at Dolphin House.
  • There were 15,833 disclosures of domestic abuse to Women’s Aid Direct Services in 2017 including 10,281 disclosures of emotional abuse, 3,502 disclosures of physical abuse, 607 disclosures of sexual abuse (Including 323 disclosures of rape) and 1,443 disclosures of financial abuse.
  • Women contacting Women’s Aid disclosed that 83% of abusers were male intimate partners. (This breaks down as: 40% husband, 8% ex-husband, 15% partner, 20% ex-partner).
  • According to Women’s Aid research, one in five women in Ireland has experienced emotional, sexual, physical and financial abuse from a current or former intimate partner in her lifetime.
  • In a 2014 study entitled 'Violence against women: An EU-wide survey' by the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), it was reported that 14% of women in Ireland have experienced physical violence by a partner since age 15. 6% of Irish women have experienced sexual violence by a current or former partner and 31% of women have experienced psychological violence by a partner. 12% of Irish respondents in the FRA study had experienced stalking (including cyber stalking).
  • 56% of women murdered in Ireland are killed by their partner or ex. (Women’s Aid Femicide Watch 2018).
  • 8 Facts for March 8 – download at
    • One in five women experience domestic abuse in Ireland.
    • 1 in 2 women murdered in Ireland is killed by a partner or ex.
    • 25% of sexual violence is carried out by intimate partners.
    • 60% of abuse starts before the age of 25.
    • 1 in 8 women experience abuse during pregnancy.
    • 41% of abused women were stalked and harassed online.
    • The Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline responds to 50 calls a day.
    • Violence against women is a human rights issue.