Violence against women

Sir, – Minister for Justice Helen McEntee recently stated that a new domestic, sexual and gender-based abuse and violence policy is to be built on four pillars to achieve zero tolerance – prevention, protection, prosecution and policy coordination. This would include appropriate education, from primary school up, on healthy relationships, gender equality and consent. While these aspirations are very welcome, the Minister makes no mention of the most malign influence on young boys and men today, which is the easy availability of graphic pornography on smartphones and other devices. How can we help to prevent the abuse and murder of women, by radically changing social and cultural attitudes, when multiple images of women being humiliated, degraded, verbally and physically assaulted are imprinted daily into the minds of young men and school boys? Women will never be safe until this sickening industry has been eradicated from our cultural landscape. – Yours, etc,

EMER HUGHES,

Moate,

Co Westmeath.

Sir, – We need a minister for domestic, sexual and gender-based violence. This should not be just part of the remit of the Minister for Justice and various other government departments.

In my work and studies over decades, I have seen so little change in how we deal with these issues. However, over the years what I have seen is that every time we have a major tragedy, we have headline comments from politicians saying what needs to change and expressing their huge condolences.

However, sadly when the stories leave the airwaves, nothing really changes. And day after day women experience appalling acts of abuse and violence in their own homes, and refuges are overflowing and have to turn women and children away due to lack of resources.

Day after day as women, we still check our surroundings, pretend to be on our phones when walking alone at night or in quiet places, hold our car keys in our hands long before we get to our cars at night. We make sure we lock the car doors immediately before we set off on our journey. We are always majorly aware of our surroundings and don’t walk alone without being consciously aware.

Day after day as women, we don’t want to be afraid, we don’t want to always have to devise ways to feel and be safe. We don’t want to go out and be subjected to remarks passed off as “just lads” banter’ and “lads just having a laugh”. Because we are not laughing, and we are not objects to be commented on, insulted, bashed about and disrespected.

We are human beings who want to get on with our lives and go about our days without having any of this nonsense thrown at us just because we are women. We want to be able to walk, or take a run anywhere we choose without fear. We do not want to have to limit our lives.

We don’t want shallow promises or lip service from government after government that they will “address the issues” and set up an “expert group” to explore the situation. We as women are the experts, we know the issues and the situation. We live with them every day.

We have been telling successive governments decade after decade to no avail. We need male violence addressed. We need men to stand with us in calling this out. Consult us now. We need the changes now. – Yours, etc,

BERNADETTE PHILLIPS,

Ferrybank,

Waterford.