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Gender should be a protected ground in Hate Crime Legislation

Published: Thursday, December 10, 2020

Marking the end of the 16 Days of Action on Gender Based Violence, violence against women organisations in Ireland called on the Government to include gender as a protected ground in the forthcoming Hate Crime legislation. The call was made at a 16 Days webinar discussing Ireland’s international obligations under the Istanbul Convention on Violence against women in relation to harassment, which was organised by the National Observatory on Violence Against Women, convened by the National Women’s Council.

Orla O’Connor, Chair of the Observatory on violence against women and Director of the National Women’s Council said,

“Harassment is possibly the most widespread form of violence, yet it is often overlooked or dismissed. Harassment is also overwhelmingly gendered. Perpetrators of harassment are disproportionately men and boys whereas the victims are disproportionately women and girls.

Under the Istanbul Convention, Ireland has clear obligations to protect women and girls from harassment. We call on the Government to prioritise legislation in relation to online harassment, image based sexual abuse and stalking. We also want to see a broader recognition of the harm and hate inflicted on victims by harassment. We are calling for gender to be a specific protected ground in the forthcoming Hate Crime legislation, sending a clear societal message that gender based harassment is unacceptable.”

Keynote speaker, Professor Marceline Naudi, President of GREVIO, the independent expert body responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Istanbul Convention) said,

“Gender based violence against women is a continuum - it starts with every day sexism, including harassment on the streets, on public transport, in our place of work, in our homes, online, and goes through the various forms of violence, ending with lethal violence – femicide!”

Mary Louise Lynch, Survivor and Founder of Sisi, a collective of intimate abuse survivors said,
“Survivors of intimate abuse are experts in their own lives. Their experiences of surviving abuse create the skills necessary to inform and influence change that lasts when it comes to eliminating intimate abuse in Ireland.”

Pirkko Mahlamäki, Secretary general of the Finnish Disability Forum and European Women’s Lobby Board Member said,
“There is a silent pandemic alongside COVID-19, accelerating violence against women and girls. Women and girls with disabilities are 3 to 4 times more likely than others to fall victim to this silent killer. We need to fight it together."

Also speaking at the event were Sarah Benson, CEO Women's Aid, Salome Mbugua, AkiDwA, Sandra Healy, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Dublin City University, and Sinead Keane, Communications and Advocacy Manager, BeLonG To.

The event was chaired by Sorcha Pollak, Journalist with the Irish Times. 


For more information, please contact Silke Paasche, NWC, Tel. 085 858 9104. 

Notes to Editor

The National Observatory on Violence Against Women is an independent network of grassroots and national organisations that come together quarterly to monitor progress on violence against women in Ireland. It provides an important space for organisations to work for improved policies and service provision for prevention and support of women victims of male violence.  The Observatory was established in 2002 and is chaired and convened by the National Women’s Council (NWC). Its members are: Action Aid; Akidwa; Aoibhneas; Ascend Domestic Abuse Service; Cairde; Chrysalis Community Drug Project; Cork Sexual Violence Centre; Dublin Rape Crisis Centre; Ending Sexual Harassment & Violence in Third Level Education (ESHTE); Galway Rape Crisis Centre; Haven Horizons; Immigrant Council of Ireland; Irish Consortium of Gender Based Violence Ireland; Longford Women’s Link; Love and Care for People; National Collective of Community-based Women's Networks (NCCWN); National Women’s Council; Pavee Point Travellers Centre; Ruhama; Sonas; Women’s Aid; YWCA