The State’s performance in tackling violence against women is to be examined by an international expert group commissioned by the Council of Europe.
The Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (Grevio), tasked with monitoring implementation of the Istanbul Convention on violence against women, is preparing to tour the country this week, meeting Government bodies, civil society groups, NGOs and survivors of abuse.
The visit is the first of its kind following the Irish ratification of the convention in 2019, the National Women’s Council (NWC) said.
“This visit comes at a really crucial time,” council director Orla O’Connor said. “Twenty twenty-two was a really difficult year for women, as violence against women in this country is at crisis levels. Twenty twenty-three is shaping up to be just as bad – with a woman a week killed at the beginning of the year. The Government’s Zero Tolerance strategy is very positive, but it’s important that it’s properly resourced and implemented now,” she said.
The NWC chairs and convenes the Irish Observatory on Violence Against Women, a network of 22 organisations working in the area of violence against women, which submitted a shadow report to Grevio in August 2022.
The report made 102 recommendations across key articles of the Istanbul Convention, and particularly highlighted the lack of data on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence, the urgency of increasing the number of refuge beds available for women fleeing domestic abuse, and the legal difficulties faced by women victims/survivors of domestic violence. It also called for the domestic homicide review to be progressed.
It is “imperative”, the council said, that a statutory domestic, sexual and gender-based violence agency, tasked with the implementation and monitoring of the government’s Zero Tolerance strategy, is established. “Data collection, timeframes, and KPIs [key performance indicators] for the strategy all sit with this agency. It’s particularly important that civil society organisations and specialist NGOs are involved with this agency every step of the way,” Ivanna Youtchak, NWC’s violence against women co-ordinator, said.
“We know for example that, after gender, disability is the single biggest risk factor for gender-based violence. Government must ensure all services are designed with disabled women in mind. They must also ensure minoritised groups, such as migrant women, Traveller women and LGBTQ people – including trans women – do not face obstacles in accessing services.”