Monday 8th March 2021: Today, Women’s Aid is highlighting the link between gender inequality and violence against women on International Women’s Day. The organisation says domestic violence is a serious problem all over the globe and constitutes a shadow pandemic in the era of Covid-19. According to the United Nations 1 in 3 women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence and every day, 137 women worldwide are killed by a partner or member of their own family. In Ireland, Women’s Aid is concerned about the prevalence of intimate relationship abuse against young women in particular. Gender inequality is causing another generation of abuse victims. There needs to be cultural and societal shifts to end violence against women.
Sarah Benson, CEO of Women’s Aid, says:
“On International Women’s Day it is important to mark the progress that women have made but it is also crucial to highlight the work still to do to. Violence against women is caused by gender inequality. It also leads to further inequality as it prevents women from participating in society and achieving their full potential. Violence against women is as pervasive in Irish society as it was almost 30 years when Women’s Aid first carried out the first prevalence study on domestic violence. Last year, a new study found that 1 in 5 young women, between the age of 18 and 25, had experienced intimate relationship abuse. Over 51% of victims said that the abuse started before they were 18 years of age.”
Ms Benson continues:
“These statistics are shocking. As a society, we cannot continue to stand over a situation where such a significant number of young women, many minors, are deeply harmed and traumatised at the hands of current or former intimate partners. It is not the entry into adulthood that we want or imagine for our young people. The impact of intimate relationship abuse can mean a young woman dropping out of college or not being able to take up work, experiencing depression, anxiety and attempting suicide. What is even more worrying, is the fact that over a third of young women who were abused reported that they never told anyone about what is happened because of fear, stigma and shame. It is a very difficult and lonely place to be, and we want that to change for the better.”
Women’s Aid say that young women who are not living with abusive partners are at particular risk of increased digital and online abuse by their partners or exes during the Covid-19 pandemic. Alarmingly, reports from other jurisdictions indicate that instances of image based sexual abuse have surged since last March.
Ms Benson explains:
“We have, quite rightly, been focused on those for whom home is not safe during Covid 19 because the pandemic has made homes where women and children are in close proximity to their abusers acutely high risk environments. However; we need to remember that you do not need to be living with a partner for them to target and abuse you when this can be achieved through digital and online means. The abuse can beam right into your home. This kind of abuse can disproportionately impact young adults.”
The Women’s Aid Too into You Public Awareness Campaign ends today on International Women’s Day. Over the last three weeks we have been running ads on Instagram, Snapchat and Spotify highlighting the signs of abuse. During that time 5,200 people have visited the dedicated TooIntoYou.ie website looking for information and resources on intimate relationship abuse.
Ms Benson concludes:
“It is only when we achieve real gender equality that will women and girls be free of violence - and only then will they be able to live safe, happy and fulfilled lives. Until then, we will continue to reach out to young women to let them know that we are here to listen, believe and support them if they are experiencing intimate relationship abuse.”
24hr National Freephone Helpline 1800 341 900, www.womensaid.ie.
Notes for editors and producers: