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11th Jul 2017

Domestic Violence Bill does not protect women and children

Safe Ireland made the announcement today.

Jade Hayden

Domestic violence bill

The Domestic Violence Bill is not doing enough to adequately protect women and children from harm, said Safe Ireland today.

According to the agency, the current bill does not protect victims from coercive abuse in the home. Coercive violence is not recognised as a specific offence in the bill.

Safe Ireland’s Caitriona Gleeson said that domestic abuse is so much more than just physical violence.

“(It’s) a whole range of behaviours, which also include physical abuse and sexual abuse and sexual coercion (…) When we meet women, their world’s are becoming smaller and smaller because the abusive partner is restricting their access to resources, to friends, to movements…”

Domestic violence child

The organisation are expected to meet with international experts on coercive control today, where they will hear the reason why coercive control is one of the most prominent factors in domestic abuse cases.

A survey released by Safe Ireland earlier this year showed that around 98 percent of victims had been emotionally or verbally abused by their partner.

Ninety percent had encountered physical abuse, and a further 43 percent had experiences of sexual abuse in their relationship.

Domestic abuse

Before the drafting of the Bill, it was recommended that both physical and psychological abuse of a partner should be included.

Minister for Justice and Equality at the time, Frances Fitzgerald, confirmed that this provision would not be included in the Bill.

According to the Director of Public Prosecutions, it would be too hard to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the offence had actually taken place.

However, coercive control has been a punishable offence in the UK since 2015.

Frances Fitzgerald

In their submission to the National Women’s Strategy earlier this year, Safe Ireland also highlighted the inextricable link between domestic violence and poverty – a link that is emphasised in new research on homeless figures also published today.

The figures showed that women make up 42 percent of Ireland’s homeless population.

This number is considerably higher than the European average which sits between 20 and 33 percent in most areas.

Domestic violence bill

According to Safe Ireland, homelessness is a direct result of domestic abuse for countless women and children across the country.

In the past, the group have called for this issue to be addressed as part of the current housing crisis.