International Women’s Day presents opportunity to highlight domestic violence

Fine Gael Dun Laoghaire Deputy, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, has today (Thursday) said that International Women’s Day not only gives us a chance to celebrate women’s social, economic and political achievements, it also presents us with an opportunity to look at how we are providing for those suffering domestic violence.

“International Women’s Day offers us a chance to reflect on the contribution women make to public life and life in general. Sadly, it also is a time to reflect on the number of women who are suffering at the hands of abusive partners.

“Safe Ireland launched their One Day Census of Domestic Violence Services 2011 today in a bid to highlight the plight of the victims of domestic abuse. The census found that on one particular day (4th of November 2011), 770 women and children received support from a domestic violence service. The other findings include the fact that on this day:

    • 127 help line calls were received;
    • 499 women and children were living in a refuge or supported housing;
    • 10 women could not be accommodated in refuge because there was not enough room;
    • 10 women receiving support were known to be pregnant and
    • 11 women who received support were over 65 years of age.

“These figures demonstrate the prevalence of domestic violence in Ireland today, which undoubtedly portrays a depressing picture. However, they are encouraging to some degree in that they illustrate that the social stigma around domestic violence has eased somewhat and that women are taking back control of their lives and seeking support.

“In days gone by, many women would have feared seeking help due to fears of condemnation from their families and local communities. Our ability and willingness to empathise and care for others has thankfully evolved.

“I have continually raised women’s issues in the Dáil and throughout my political career. The gender pay imbalance and lack of women being appointed to senior positions in business and on State boards are two of the issues I have attempted to shine a light on. Domestic violence is, however, the issue that is closest to my heart.

“Ireland has 20 refuge centres with a total of 144 beds, meeting only a third of the Council of Europe requirements; an issue that needs to be addressed. I will be working with my colleagues in Government to ensure that the issue of domestic abuse against women, and men, is brought out into the open and that adequate resources are put in place to deal with it.”

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