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Call to centre survivors’ voices in response to gender-based violence

Published: Friday, December 08, 2023

Call comes as Irish Observatory on Violence Against Women publishes wide-ranging report looking at government performance on the Zero Tolerance Strategy


Victim-survivors can be exposed to further unacceptable trauma and their experiences are not being sufficiently considered in the state response to gender-based violence, according to 28 civil society organisations who make up the Irish Observatory on Violence Against Women. We are calling on government to centre the needs and voices of survivors as they further develop the response to gender-based violence.

Tomorrow (Friday 8th) the Observatory, supported by Community Foundation Ireland, publishes a monitoring report which examines the implementation of the government’s Third National (Zero Tolerance) Strategy on Violence Against Women. We identify major challenges in including survivors’ voices and in ensuring women from all backgrounds can access support and justice. The report also highlights the importance of including survivor perspectives in prevention of violence; and the need for robust measurement and data to monitor the Strategy effectively and hold government and statutory bodies to account.

Chair of the Observatory, Orla O’Connor, said:

“In the Family Court system, we are concerned that survivor’s needs are not sufficiently considered. We see custody and access arrangements that are not safe for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. We are still very far from a Court system that understands the dynamics of domestic violence, especially coercive control. For example going to Court can be intimidating for survivors who often have to wait in the same spaces as the perpetrators.”

Denise Charlton, Chief Executive of Community Foundation Ireland, said:

“This report highlights the need to address the harms of prostitution and trafficking alongside the specific needs of women in prostitution and the barriers to accessing supports. And while we welcome the improved process for identifying victims of trafficking and the announced specialist accommodation, there is a long way to go in integrating survivors’ needs across the statutory responses. Women in prostitution and victims of trafficking should have access to safety, support, and exit routes to recover and rebuild new lives beyond the sex trade.”

NWC’s Violence Against Women Coordinator Ivanna Youtchak said:

“We found inaccessibility to be a cross-cutting issue. For example, awareness campaigns often do not consider the experience and barriers experienced by Travellers and Roma, disabled, or migrant women (such as language barriers, internet access, etc). And although some new refuge spaces have come onstream, there is still a lack of accessible spaces for disabled women and women in addiction who are more likely to experience gender-based violence. An intersectional approach is vital to solving these issues.”

Violence against women is an epidemic in Ireland. The Zero Tolerance Strategy is vital to ending that but gaps remain. Chief among them are an intersectional lens and the inclusion of survivors’ voices. Robust monitoring mechanisms and data collection strategies are essential and a fully resourced Agency to carry out, not only its own functions, but to adequately support the vital frontline services.


For comment: Orla O’Connor and Ivanna Youtchak

Here are the key findings of the Observatory: https://www.nwci.ie/images/uploads/IOVAW_monitoring_report_on_Zero_Tolerance.pdf

Find here the Observatory’s full report: https://www.nwci.ie/images/uploads/Key_Findings_IOVAW_monitoring_report.pdf

For more information, please contact Sinéad Nolan, NWC Communications and Social Media Coordinator on sineadn@nwci.ie


When: Friday 8 December, 10am

Where: IHREC, 18-22 Green St, Dublin 7

What: launch of Irish Observatory on Violence Against Women monitoring report on government’s Third National (Zero Tolerance) Strategy on Violence Against Women.


About the Irish Observatory on Violence Against Women

The National Observatory on Violence Against Women was established in 2002 and is chaired by the National Women’s Council. The Observatory is an independent network of grassroots and national organisations that come together quarterly to monitor progress on violence against women in Ireland. It provides a vital space for organisations to work for improved policies, service provision and advocacy in support of women victims –survivors of male violence, with a diversity of voices. It raises awareness of the phenomenon of male violence against women, monitors government commitments at national and international levels, and provides relevant data. The Observatory links into the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) and European Observatory on Violence against Women.


The organisations in the Observatory include Action Aid Ireland, AkiDwA, AMAL Women’s Association, Amber Women's Refuge, Aoibhneas, Ascend-North Tipperary Development Company, Cairde, Cope Galway Domestic Services, Domestic Violence Response Galway, Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, Galway Rape Crisis Centre, Haven Horizons, Immigrant Council of Ireland, Irish Consortium on Gender Based Violence, Longford Women’s Link, Love & Care for People, NWC, Pavee Point Traveller and Roma Centre, Ruhama, Sexual Exploitation Research Programme (SERP), Sexual Violence Centre Cork, SAOL project, Sonas Domestic Violence Charity, Spunout, Survivors Informing Services and Institutions (SISI), Women’s Aid, Women’s Collective Ireland, Young Women’s Christian Association of Ireland (YWCA).


About NWC

The National Women’s Council is the leading national representative organisation for women and women’s groups in Ireland, founded in 1973. We have over 190 member groups and a large and growing community of individual supporters.

This year we celebrate 50 years since our foundation with a special calendar of events and campaigns.

The ambition of the National Women’s Council is an Ireland where every woman enjoys true equality and no woman is left behind. This ambition shapes and informs our work, and, with our living values, how we work.

We are a movement-building organisation rooted in our membership, working on the whole island of Ireland. We are also part of the international movement to protect and advance women’s and girls’ rights. Our purpose is to lead action for the achievement of women’s and girls’ equality through mobilising, influencing, and building solidarity. Find out more on www.nwci.ie