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Specific difficulties facing migrant women suffering domestic violence must be recognised

13 June, 2007

Speaking ahead of roundtable discussion today with service providers on domestic violence organised by AkiDwA Sinn Féin Justice and Equality Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD said the specific difficulties faced by migrant women suffering domestic violence must be recognised. Deputy Ó Snodaigh commended AkiDwA for calling the conference today.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "I want to commend AkiDwA for calling today's Roundtable Discussion with service providers on domestic violence. This has provided an important forum for discussion of the challenges in providing support for women and children experiencing domestic violence and to focus on the diverse issues facing African/Migrant women. AkiDwA is to be congratulated on the extensive consultation they have engaged in, and continue to engage in, leading to the drafting of guidelines on domestic violence that has been presented today. I hope that their contributions will be supported and heeded.

"The specific difficulties faced by migrant women facing domestic violence must be recognised. These include dependency on their husband's status for permission to remain in the State, accessing services as an asylum seeker in an accommodation centre, cultural restraints, language differences and the lack of resources within the refuges and support services to deal with diversity. Service providers must be given the necessary training to be able to develop appropriate responses to diversity and the resources to be able to meet the needs of all women.

"Sinn Féin moved a Private Members' Motion on Domestic Violence in the Dáil in February this year. In it we called for the Government to prioritise and guarantee core funding to frontline services to allow for the strategic development and delivery of services. We also called for the introduction of measures to overcome language difficulties and other barriers, including the prospect of deportation, experienced by migrants, ethnic minorities and others attempting to access services and protections. These measures have still not been delivered.

"The Government's response was a pre-election announcement of the establishment of a new office to prevent domestic violence. While broadly welcomed initially, further examination of the limited information available on this new office has raised serious concerns. The existing remit of the office is too narrow and the focus on prevention does not address the issues of protection and provision of services. The fact that the office was developed without consultation and the critical involvement of existing NGO and statutory groups raises serious questions about the Government's commitment to tackling the problem of domestic violence being experienced by women, children and men in this State.

"The incoming Government will have to do better. The new Minister for Justice and the Minister for Health will have to do better. Sinn Féin will again be challenging the Government to meet their responsibilities and deliver necessary and appropriate measures to ensure that all women and men in Ireland are adequately protected." ENDS

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