Women's support groups call on judge to apologise

 

WOMEN’S SUPPORT groups have called on Judge Seán Martin MacBride to apologise after remarks he made at Monaghan District Court this week.

The judge made the remarks after he heard a number of cases in which women, having alleged that they had been assaulted by their partners, withdrew the charges in court.

The judge told the court he was “getting tired of these cases”.

“I am sick to the teeth of this. I must have heard 50 of these cases this year alone,” he said.

“The Director of Public Prosecutions should be asked to consider prosecuting such complaints for wasting Garda time and resources.”

Two women’s support groups in the area yesterday spoke on local radio station Northern Sound criticising the judge’s comments.

“I think ‘flabbergasted’ was one word that was used a lot for this,” said Paula McGovern, spokeswoman for Sonas Housing.

“I think that there is a lack of understanding [of] what a woman might be going through, the pressure she could be under, the threats to drop the charges,” she added.

“These women are not saying the assault did not happen, they just dropped the charges. We know there is a lot of victim blaming going on.

“In this case the victim has withdrawn the charges and there is a lot of pressure on the woman to stay in the situation. There is a lot of stigma involved in domestic violence. It is not really talked about in the open and I think it would be nice if he did apologise but we need greater accountability from judges.”

Siobhán McKenna of Tearmann Domestic Violence Services in Monaghan said: “I understand where the judge is coming from, and sometimes it can be frustrating, but he has to understand the reasons why the women do this.

“You are talking about fear, the fear of the perpetrator; the fear of appearing in an open court, taking the stand; the chances of your name appearing in the local paper.

“You have to think of the cycle of abuse and the fear the woman is living with. Women often hope and think about changing the perpetrator but we know from experience this is unlikely.”

Ms McKenna added: “Women that we deal with are telling us they are devastated by these comments of the judge. He needs to understand the dynamics of this, but he does not.

“What is needed is the courts, the Courts Service and the gardaí working together but they do not support each other.”