Government must aim to have a refuge centre in each county
Welcoming the Government’s strategy to tackle domestic, gender and sexual based violence, Labour leader Ivana Bacik said urgent delivery of refuge places must be a key priority.
Deputy Bacik said:
“The strategy announced by Government today will be transformative in Ireland’s approach to protecting and supporting victims and survivors of domestic, gender and sexual violence. Effective implementation of the strategy in line with best practice internationally and with stakeholder engagement will be crucial in the delivery of change.
“Covid-19 has exposed the frailty in state-infrastructure which aims to prevent and respond to domestic violence. We need the Government to act with urgency to deliver the promised refuge spaces, but also to increase the number of spaces committed. Domestic abuse refuges offer support to women and children in these situations, but spaces are limited. Government must aim to provide adequate refuge spaces in each and every county to keep victims in their communities with the support of friends and family.
“We also need a fundamental change of emphasis – to move towards tackling the perpetrators and preventing the abuse, rather than constantly trying to mend the damage that abusers do.
“We know that the common strand in gender-based violence worldwide is an imbalance of power between men and women; the gender inequality that in so many countries like our own leaves women with less power and less status in society. That power imbalance must be addressed and education is vital in this.
“The commitment to providing education on consent, healthy sexual relationships and domestic violence is crucial in creating a culture change and ending not only the violent attacks and abuse, but also the micro-aggressions, the acts of so-called casual or everyday sexism by a small minority of men – that have the effect of leaving all women and girls in fear.
“Prior to the negotiation of the Programme for Government, organisations in the sector called for a dedicated Minister with responsibility for domestic, sexual and gender-based violence. I am glad that the Minister for Justice is leading on development of a targeted approach to addressing domestic and gender-based violence and look forward to working with her and with organisations to achieve meaningful change.”