In this month’s Women’s Live’s, Women’s Voice’ feature a Donegal woman shares her views and thoughts on the issue of ‘gender based violence experienced by women and highlights the important need for us as a society and country to confront the reality of gender based violence in Ireland.
What will you do to support the 16 Days of Action Campaign and beyond?
Ireland is currently taking part in the annual international campaign known as the 16 Days of Action which runs from 25th November (UN Day For the Elimination of Violence against Women) to 10th December 2019 (International Human Rights Day). The campaign is used as an organising strategy by individuals and organisations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls. ( UN Women)
Gender-Based Violence refers to “violence that is directed against a person on the basis of gender or sex and includes acts that inflict physical, mental or sexual harm or suffering, threats of such acts, coercion and other denials of freedom” (cosc.ie) While both men and women can experience gender based violence the reality however remains that in 2019 it is women and girls who are the main victims of this directed violence.
Violence against women is not just a women’s rights issue; it’s also a human rights issue. “A third of all women and girls experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, half of women killed worldwide were killed by their partners or family, and violence perpetrated against women is as common a cause of death and incapacity for those of reproductive age, as cancer, and a greater cause of ill health than road accidents and malaria combined.” (UN, 2019)
According to the latest Woman’s Aid Femicide Watch 2018 report, 225 women have died violently in Ireland between 1996-2018. 176 cases have been resolved. 9 cases are awaiting trial, and 40 cases remain unsolved, 137 of these women died in their own homes with 16 children also dying alongside their mothers. (Women’s Aid Ireland)
Globally in a 2018 UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report, it was highlighted that some 87,000 women and girls were murdered worldwide in 2017. Of these, 58 % had been murdered by someone in their inner circle – 30,000 were killed by their spouse or intimate partner, and another 20,000 by a member of their own family. The high murder rate among women is a consequence of rampant gender-based violence.
The recent murder of the young teenage girl Ana Kriégel is a particularly dark representation of male violence towards women. Ana, in my opinion, was murdered by boys because she was a girl; it’s as simple as that. It isn’t a pleasant sentence to read; it is a harsh and unpalatable fact. Despite seeking a more elaborate explanation, the real reason is hidden in plain sight. Disregarded because we cannot or will not look at the evidence that gender-based violence is a real problem in Ireland.
The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar recently acknowledged that Ireland is gripped by “an epidemic of gender-based violence”. During leaders’ questions in the Dail, Mr Varadkar stated: “There is an epidemic of gender-based violence in Ireland and indeed across the world and it does need to stop”. He went on to state that the Government were implementing law changes and had undertaken to protect and support victims of a sex crime. Only time will tell.
Sexual Abuse reported in Donegal
The Donegal Sexual Abuse & Rape Crisis Centre continually work towards meeting the needs of and providing accessibility to their services to the population of County Donegal through the provision of Outreach services. Their Outreach Services are located in GP surgeries and various Health Providers in the local communities.
They are based in Letterkenny with 4 Outreach Centres:
Donegal Town (Monday Mornings)
Buncrana (Friday all day)
Lifford (Wednesday Mornings)
Derrybeg (Friday Mornings)
Breaking Ireland’s Rape Culture
“Rape culture is the social environment that allows sexual violence to be normalised and justified, fuelled by the persistent gender inequalities and attitudes about gender and sexuality.” ( UN Women 2019)
Rape, a single word with a devastating impact, it destroys bodies and minds. When left unpunished or trivialised, it creates a culture where sexual violence is normalised and women and girls are undervalued and not respected. Far too many of us fail to name or challenge the rape culture that surrounds us.
Through our words, actions and inactions; discriminatory laws or tolerance towards perpetrators; through the media we view, indecent humour, and opinions we do not question, we have become part of a culture that allows rape to continue. Nonetheless, in recent years, the voices of activists and survivors through campaigns such as #MeToo and #TimesUp, have reached an intensification that cannot be silenced or ignored. However, violence against women and girls continues worldwide.
It is time we quit looking the other way. There is an endemic problem in this country with gender-based violence. It is so rooted that boys as young as 13 years of age visited unimaginable brutality on a defenceless young girl. This violence exists in our homes, on our streets, in our institutions and establishments. We need legislation to support victims and penalise perpetrators.
However, we also need a cultural shift where girls and women’s complaints are responded to and taken seriously. This would mean no dismissal of charges based on the character of the women. Also, we require men and boys to be held accountable for their actions. Furthermore, we need to stop viewing violent men as though they were unique and peculiar. An excellent place to begin would be a guiding opinion that values women’s safety over men’s sensitivity.
If you want to help break this circle and end such violence towards women and girls why not check out this practical guide; 16 ways you can stand against rape culture here.
Remember you are not alone, there are people you can talk to. If you or any one you know have been effected by domestic or sexual abuse you can find support with the following services;
offers counselling, support and advice to survivors of rape and sexual abuse in a confidential, safe and friendly environment. Freephone: 1800 44 88 44, Telephone: 074-9128211
is a frontline service providing crisis accommodation, 24 hr helpline, support (1800262677) and information and outreach service throughout the County to women and their children who are victims of domestic violence.
24 Hour Helpline on 1800 778888
Freephone Helpline (1800 341 900) operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and provides support and information to callers experiencing abuse from intimate partners.