Greater awareness of coercive control urgently needed – Kathleen Funchion TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Children, Disability, Equality and Integration, Kathleen Funchion TD, has called on the government to revisit the Work Life Balance Bill 2022 and provide ten days’ paid domestic leave to support victims of domestic violence.
Speaking as the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign begins today, she also urged the government to embark on a comprehensive information campaign to increase public awareness of coercive control.
Teachta Funchion said:
“This year the Dáil debated the Work Life Balance Bill 2022, which for the first time included the provision of domestic violence leave. I, along with Louise O’Reilly TD and Mary Lou McDonald TD, strongly opposed the government’s plan to legislate for five days’ leave.
“Only providing for five days and not ten as proposed by Sinn Féin created a two-tier system, as ten days’ leave is already the norm in many agencies and institutions in the state.
“Sadly, coercive control can happen to anyone of any age but especially young people. Recent research shows that one in six young women aged 18 to 25 in Ireland has been subjected to coercive control by a current or former partner. Starkly, this same research showed that one in five young people (also aged 18 to 24) have never heard of the term coercive control.
“Women’s Aid and other organisations continue their invaluable work through public awareness campaigns highlighting intimate relationship abuse and are working to raise awareness of coercive control. I want to commend their continued work in highlighting these important issues.
“It is vital that young people are aware of this issue, including how to spot the signs of coercive control, including very subtle signs of control, how to seek support if they experience abuse in a relationship and how to support others who may experience it.
“The state continues to fail women of all ages fleeing domestic violence, particularly in relation to the lack of sufficient refuge spaces, which affects people of all ages and from all walks of life.
“Most shocking is the fact that several counties are still without any refuge at all, including in my own constituency of Carlow. This is despite national focus on the lack of services that each death of a woman in violent circumstances highlights.
“A recent Garda review of crime trends found that the majority of murders in Ireland last year had a domestic abuse motivation; of the 25 murders recorded, 13 (52pc) were linked to domestic abuse.
“In 2021, there were 817 sex crimes with a domestic abuse motivation reported, compared to 205 offences the previous year. This figure represents a 399% increase and accounted for a quarter of all sexual offences reported last year.
“These figures show we have some way to go to change attitudes and should drive us on to take urgent action to tackle domestic violence, to support victims and survivors, and to deliver the supports and protections so long denied to them.”