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Domestic Violence should be treated as a criminal offence

Published: Friday, August 11, 2017

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) today welcomed the United Nations Committee Against Torture’s (UNCAT) recommendations in relation to amending the Domestic Violence Bill to include a specific criminal offence of domestic violence that encompasses physical and psychological abuse committed within a relationship.

Orla O’Connor, Director of NWCI said,
“The United Nations Committee Against Torture’s recommendations are very welcome, and echo the amendments that NWCI has proposed to the Domestic Violence Bill. The numbers of women experiencing physical and/or sexual violence remains unacceptably high in Ireland, and NWCI also has concerns regarding appropriate sanctions for perpetrators.  Legislating for domestic violence as a specific offence would recognise the particularly harmful and complex nature of domestic violence. It would assist in the effective policing of domestic violence incidents and send out a clear message of zero tolerance towards violence in the home. NWCI will meet with Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan in the coming weeks, and will raise this issue with him.”

Orla O’Connor continued,
“Overall, the Committee’s observations in relation to the treatment of women, both historic and ongoing, are to be welcomed. The Committee’s expression of concern at the severe physical and mental anguish and distress experienced by women and girls regarding termination of pregnancy due to the State policies must be followed up by the government announcing a date for a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment in spring 2018.”

“As yet another international body have called for the State to undertake a thorough, impartial investigation into allegations of ill-treatment of women at the Magdalen Laundries, and of the treatment of women who have subjected to a symphysiotomy , it is imperative that the State acts on these recommendations. Women can not achieve equality until we ensure justice for historical abuse and mistreatment of women.”

Orla O’Connor concluded,
“As Ireland’s record on the protection and promotion of women’s rights is again criticised, it is clear that while significant positive advancements have occurred for women’s equality, there remains persistent structural inequalities for women in Ireland. Women want to live in a society free from violence, one which values their right to make decisions about their future and their own medical decisions, and one which fully investigates and redresses historical abuse of women. The Irish Government must show political leadership now to accelerate the pace of change for women’s equality.”

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