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‘Government must hold wide-ranging Dáil debate on violence against women’ – McDonald

20 November, 2014 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has confirmed that the party last night secured agreement from the Whips, pending Ministerial approval, to make time for a wide-ranging Dáil debate next Thursday on the need for a more robust Government response to the endemic, society-wide problem of violence against women.

Speaking following her attendance at the Women’s Aid Minute of Silence event to remember the 78 women killed by their partners or ex-partners since 1996, and in advance of debate on the Sinn Féin Domestic Violence (Amendment) Bill tomorrow, Deputy McDonald said:

“One in three women experiences some form of sexual abuse and one in five women experiences domestic violence over her lifetime.  Last year alone, the fifteen Rape Crisis Centres assisted considerably more than two thousand survivors of sexual violence.  

“It is disturbing that less than half of those surviving adult sexual violence reported it to any authority, and that only one third of those who did so, reported to the Gardaí.  Under-reporting by victims and under-investigation by the relevant authorities including the Gardaí are well-established problems that must be overcome.  

“We also know from previous research that the DPP only prosecutes one in three of the comparatively few cases referred, and that victims are far more likely to see a prosecution if they were attacked by a stranger in a public place and report it within an hour.  If, as with the majority of victims, they are assaulted by a known assailant in private, and if there is any delay whatsoever in reporting, it is extremely unlikely that justice will ever be served.

‘This is not acceptable, it has to change, and it requires a more robust and coordinated response on the part of Government. Given the gravity of the situation, and the sheer numbers of citizens affected every day and every year, there is no valid reason why the Minister should not agree to provide time for the Dáil to debate this issue of fundamental national importance.  I am optimistic that it will finally happen during this year’s annual 16 Days of Action Opposing Violence Against Women, 25 November to 10 December.’ 

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