Government accused of being lax on domestic violence


Human rights campaigners today demanded an end to ineffective Government statements aimed at reducing the amount of women suffering domestic violence in Ireland .

With figures indicating one-in-five women the victim of abuse at the hands of a partner, Amnesty Ireland called for comprehensive steps to address the problem.

Amnesty spokesman, Jim Loughran said several Government departments had a role to play. "Violence against women is a fundamental abuse of human rights and all to often all we have seen from the Government is a poster campaign which looks good but does not go far enough," Mr Loughran said.

"The key is that there is a common policy that is fully resourced rather than pious statements about a plan for action."

Mr Loughran said the Department of Education, Social Affairs and Justice had to work together to protect women by providing more services. He claimed the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has had to close its doors at times due to huge numbers of women seeking help.

He also noted Women's Aid helplines were unable to handle the 15,000 or so calls it received each year.

Around 1,000 demonstrators are to march on Leinster House on Tuesday demanding action as part of Amnesty's Stop Violence Against Women campaign.

Thousands of people around the country have put their names and messages on handprints as part of a visual petition to spur the Government into action.

Mr Loughran noted that violence against women occurred in 20 per cent of dating couples, while 25 per cent of all violent crimes reported involved a man assaulting his wife or partner, according to figures from the United States and the EU.

But he warned campaigners to remember that most men never harm their partners and even fell victim to domestic violence themselves. "The majority of men are not abusers but we need these men to engage and show that violence against women is unacceptable," he said.

The Stop Violence Against Women festival runs in Dublin city centre until March 8th. Addresses by human rights defenders Ana Paula Hernandez from Mexico and Kongosi Mussanzi from the Democratic Republic of Congo and a diversity discussion forum will also feature at the festival.