Women’s Aid launch a petition for a 'Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy' in NI
Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that does not have a specific strategy dedicated to tackling gender-based violence to help bring an end to violence against women and girls.
Domestic abuse and gender-based violence disproportionately affects women and girls, however here in NI there is nothing in place to address this. Specific strategies give clear responsibility for regional governments to ensure a meaningful response to stop gender-based violence against women and girls. Women’s Aid are now calling on the Assembly to take action and develop a strategy that brings NI in line with the same standard as the rest of the UK.
Women’s Aid NI have emphasised that a strategy tackling gender-based violence will not discount the valid experiences of other gender identities, but instead will address the reality of the situation which is that women and girls are disproportionately affected.
The rates of femicide in Northern Ireland in 2017 were the highest rates in the whole of Europe per head of population. In the year 2019/2020, PSNI responded to 32,105 incidents of domestic abuse, with domestic abuse accounting for 17% of all crime reported to police. In the same year Women’s Aid supported 561 women and 316 children in refuges and across community outreach we supported 5,536 women and 5,143 children who have experienced domestic abuse right across Northern Ireland.
Sarah Mason, CEO of Women’s Aid Federation NI said, “We are calling on the Northern Ireland Assembly to take this issue seriously and act now to put in place a VAWG strategy to ensure women and girls in Northern Ireland are treated fairly and have equality across the UK. Women’s Aid will lobby to garner support across the public in Northern Ireland and also seek support from across the UK to ensure parity in NI is achieved.”
Domestic and sexual abuse continues to be under-reported and prosecutions remain low and, as noted by CEDAW, Domestic Abuse Legislation in Northern Ireland remains inadequate. To effectively tackle violence against women, coordinated action from government is required, including preventative measures, early intervention and protection, victim-centred justice to address the lack of services and barriers faced by women and girls.
Violence against women is an issue that transcends borders, class and socio-economic status. It impacts women and girls in all societies.
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