Friday, 5 July 2013


I view a lot of blogs around the world and I feel very strongly about Human Rights, in particular Women's & Children's Rights for it is my belief that these issues are generally neglected world wide.

Last night I visited Gerry Adams blog Léargas (means 'Insight') and after reading his words I was inspired to share them with you.

A cause and consequence of women’s inequality.

The recent conviction of Adrian Bayley in Australia for the brutal rape and murder of Jill Meagher, the savage murder of Jolanta Lubiene and her eight year old daughter Enrika in county Kerry and the media furore around the photos of celebrity cook Nigella Lawson being assaulted by her husband, have all brought into sharp focus the issue of violence against women.
Co-incidentally two weeks ago the annual report for 2012 from Women’s Aid was published. Its facts were equally shocking.

·       One in five women in the Irish state will experience violence and abuse from an intimate partner

·       3,230 disclosures of direct child Abuse to the Women’s Aid Helpline – a 55% increase on the previous year

·       11,729 calls to the Freephone Helpline

·       32 calls per day

·       49% of the women supported in One to One service were experiencing abuse from a former husband, partner or boyfriend

·       30% of first time one to one support visits were with women from migrant communities

·       The most dangerous time can be when a woman is planning or making her exit and in the period afterwards.
The facts are equally stark in the north. The Making the Grade report in 2007 revealed that:

·       In 2006/7 the Police Service Northern Ireland responded to a domestic incident every 22 minutes of every day of the year.

·       In 2006/7 there were more domestic violence related crimes (10,115) than the combined total for sexual offences against children, indecent exposure, robbery, armed robbery, hijacking, fraud and counterfeiting, shoplifting, dangerous driving, offences and firearms offences

·       20% of all attempted murders in 2006/7 had a domestic motivation

·       The rate of conviction for rape decreased from 28.2% in 1994 to 19% in 2005.

·       The number of recorded rapes increased from 292 in 2001 to 457 in 2006.

·       84% of victims of sexual offences were women.
But as with any statistics it is essential that you look beyond the bullet points and focus on the human experience that they reflect.

The Women’s Aid report records harrowing accounts of this experience. Women have described being locked in and prevented from leaving their houses, being drugged, assaulted and hospitalised, being beaten while pregnant or breast-feeding, being gagged to stop screaming, being raped and sexually abused, including being pinned down and assaulted, and being forced to have sex in return for money to feed their children.
For women violence includes but is not limited to domestic violence, forced marriage, rape and sexual assault, crimes in the name of honour, murder, trafficking and sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation, sexual harassment and stalking. It causes physical damage ranging from death to miscarriages to broken limbs. Sexual offences can also result in sexually transmitted diseases and forced pregnancies, as well as leaving long term psychological damage.

Kofi Annan, the former head of the United Nations said:
“Violence against women is perhaps the most shameful human rights violation and it is perhaps the most pervasive. It knows no boundaries of geography, culture or wealth. As long as it continues we cannot claim to be making real progress towards equality, development and peace.”

Safe Ireland also published the results of a one day survey which revealed that almost 850 women and children received support and protection from domestic violence over a single 24-hour period on November 6th last year.

The survey found that more than 500 women and over 300 children sought domestic violence services on that day. Almost 270 women and children were accommodated in refuge, with 21 women being turned away due to lack of space. The census also found that more than 20 pregnant women looked for safety from violence.

At its core violence against women is a cause and a consequence of women’s inequality. It cannot be challenged and defeated without a recognition of this.
So how do we end it? Coherent, integrated and properly economic, social, cultural and political strategies are needed. Such strategies do work. 

Regrettably, in the south the promised consolidated domestic violence legislation contained in the Programme for Government has yet to be delivered. This week I again asked about this in the Dáil. The Minister for Justice wrote me a letter saying that it will be ‘progressed as soon as possible having regard to the need for consultations and other legislative priorities in the Department of Justice and Equality.’
Other legislative priorities? What greater priority should there be than protecting the lives and human rights of women and girls.

The bottom line is that there is no underlying strategic approach or priority being given to this issue.
The Minister also told my comrade Mary Lou McDonald that the government has still not signed the European Convention on Preventing and Combatting Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.  It apparently supports the aims and terms in principle but he claims there is a ‘particular difficulty reconciling property rights under the Irish constitution with the requirement under Article 52 of the European Convention and the availability of barring orders.’

This is also the rationale presented by the Minister for rejecting Woman’s Aid recommendation for an on call system for accessing emergency barring orders to give women and children protection. And yet when the government rushed through legislation in the Dáil earlier this year on the Irish Bank Resolution Company it included a provision requiring the ‘permanent or temporary interference with property rights for the common good.’
So, we can have rushed legislation on property rights to aid banks but no legislation on property rights to help women victims of violence. And all the while violence against women continues.



  1. I recently read that sexual violence against women in our military, a large and increasing statistic, is overshadowed by sexual violence against men in the same population. I stated this not to diminish the urgency of addressing violence against women, but to also ask why does it go on. How is cruelty ended?

    1. Joanne I was not able to substantiate your comment, the only information that I have found is this: The Pentagon has found that 70 sexual assaults may be taking place within the U.S. military every day. The report estimates there were 26,000 sex crimes committed in 2012.

  2. That's failry terrible reading. As a strong, independent and financialy secure woman, I sometimes struggle with why so many women become victims...but then surely Nigella has the means to walk away...but doesn't.... now that I cannot understand. Unlike many victims who cannot, for all sorts of reasons. Violence against women and children happens all over the world, look at the examples from Pakistan recently, the former Yugoslavia in the 1990's...this list would be endless! There's a whole complicated tale behind all this..I think women (in general) still dont see themselves as equal in this world, and the reason is that they are not. Our world had not advanced enough yet.

  3. Like everything else in this world, it all comes down to money doesn't it?
    Many countries treat their women shamefully - apart from the domestic violence in the Western world, ther are things like female circumcision and mutilation, female exploitation, the treatment of women as second class citizens or as part of a man's assets, to be treated as he desires or societies where women cannot be educated. I don't think there is a short term answee to any of this - at least we are more aware of what happens these days, but that doesn't make it any more acceptable.

  4. This makes shocking reading, Mel.

  5. Oh - I wrote a long comment - now it is gone...
    These figures are shocking. I cannot compare them to figures in Germany, but I think they are much higher (though those figures are only the reported - there must be a high dark figure).
    It might be a problem of social circumstances - low income, drunkeness, low education - but I doubt that this is all. I can say nothing about Irish society, but the English seemed to me much more 'macho' than ours.
    It might be a problem of low self-esteem (a weakling hits those who are even weaker).
    What shocked me when I was in England and we discussed Nigella Lawson, that not so few women saw more shame in the fact that it was 'public' - as if it were privately behind closed doors something - well, private.
    What I think might help: education+raising the awareness that it is a crime. Teaching people to talk instead of fight - and, giving women a good education so they are able to leave a ruffian (divorces asked by women roared since they are financially more independant). Social ostracism - and houses were women+children can flee to.
    It is the role of media to show it as that what it is: a crime!

    1. PS: Discussed the topic with husband and he pointed to the fact that a lot of Irish people are Catholics (he is also one), which explains why not so many women opt for divorce. And he said that he remembered in his youth some women spoke of "the cross one has to bear", and he always wondered what they meant.
      As a have some gay friends I would like to know whether violence against the 'woman' plays a role in these partnerships too? That would point to social reasons in the role itself (an explanation doesn't make it a jota better - but only if one knew/finds reasons one can start to mend)

  6. One thing that makes me quite angry is the question "why do so many women become victims", rather than "why do so many men violent attack and rape women?" There is something wrong with this way of thinking, as if the problem lies with the women for becoming victims. Violence against women is a men's issue as well as a women's issue.
    The reference to other countries treating their women shamefully tends to move the problem to "other countries" while it is happening next door, or in our own homes. It is not a problem of the "other" - it is OUR problem. The treatment of women as second class citizens and as chattels happens here in Western countries. It is due to patriarchal rule which aims to control women, hence to own and control property, and preserve the power and privilege of patriarchy. Now I might sound like a radical feminist, but until we realise that and change it, violence against women will not end.

  7. Good post about an issue that needs to be brought out into the open more in my opinion.

    I'm in agreement with some of the above comments especially Martha Magenta's.
    I see this issue - and the rape & abuse of men who are perceived as "weaker"- as being about power.
    The power that men have in families, in society, in relationships & in the workplace.
    I don't think that money, class, poverty, educational levels or religion make a huge difference
    - if a man wants to abuse physically, sexually or psychologically he will.
    As for the rise in abuse within the armed forces - yes it is shocking- but for so long women have been perceived as
    "the spoils of war", raped, mutilated and killed as part of as a soldier's proof of masculinity and success
    we shouldn't really be surprised.
    It IS a men's issue as much as a women's issue.
    Count me in with the radical feminists !

  8. I think all the posts are very relavent to the topic. Violence against women, and or men is all about power, like rape is about power, usually commited by those with insecurity issues and twisted minds.
    Why do people stay in these kind of relationships ? All I can add is chains on their brains. These Hellish people who commit these assaults have already assaulted the mind of their victims (those in relationships) They are either too scared to leave or too weak to leave.
    Why is nothing ever done about these monsters, well.....they didn't steal any money. The victims are of no consequence to the government because it would cost money to deal with their problems, it is therefor only paid lipservice to, the problem is talked about but never anything done. Womens Aid is the most wonderful service for abused women and their children, and of course they are a charity.
    Abuse of women is a subject close to my heart and I could rant on and on and on...then you'd get bored listening. So I'll shut up.
    Margaret x

  9. A great and powerful post, Mel. It is one that is close to my heart.

  10. A very thought provoking post. I think the more publicity this matter gets, the more women will have the courage to stand up to it, look what is happening in India with the protests against the recent rapes and murders. I find it unbelievable that the Irish (and British) governments are dithering about changing the law when there really shouldn't be any argument about it x

  11. Nice work Mr Heron.

  12. Yes, a great post and so are the comments - good to hear all points of view.
    But where are the comments from men?
    I really would like to read their thoughts & feelings on this issue.

  13. Hi Mel and Jane.
    Unfortunately violence against women and girls (violated female's), is something that is worldwide. I have just read an article about an 11 year old girl in Chile who as a victim of rape now faces a battle against her countries law concerning abortion. However, if I was just to look upon our situation here in Ireland, then I feel that we as a country still persist in treating violence against females as 'part of life'. I know when a member of my family was assaulted continually by her husband both the Gardái and eventually the courts treated her case as a joke. She had by this time fell into a state of deep depression and was utterly unable to defend herself and her solicitor (a woman) seemed to be in awe of the opposition's solicitor. It is so easy to look at the situation from the outside and make a judgement on why or why not the victim of violence finds it impossible to walk away. There may be many factors involved and when you have no support from rural Gardaí who may feel the eyes of the community upon them it is incredibly hard for any woman to 'walk away'. Our culture of domestic violence may lie in the fact that the church and the state worked together to accommodate this vile and evil treatment of mostly but not always vulnerable females but may be that is too easy. We all played a part in the collusion and cover up by stigmatising both domestic and sexual abuse. When we turn a blind eye to how our children were and still are being abused we plant the seeds in society that makes it acceptable to allow this type of behaviour to go on. It has been said that the abused grows up to become the abuser, well I can tell you that this is not always the case. As a child that was abused I have grown up to become a husband and father of three girls and a grandfather. I have not nor will I ever abuse any other human being or animal for I know what it is like to fear the footsteps in the dark and the smell of cigarette smoke. I know what it is like to tremble when I used to see the glow of a cigarette in the dark. We are the forgotten children for if you were abused by members of your own family you don't get counselling from the state, no compensation, no mention, no admission. As long as this stigmatisation of people who should be considered victims and not the guilty ones just because they couldn't stop the violence carries on then so too will the abominal treatment of all ages and classes of females. It is time that we as a nation, as a society and as members of the human race said no more. It is happening near to where you live right now and it may be happening to someone you know and possibly love. We can make our voices heard by writing to our TD's and supporting the views of Gerry Adams, who has also had members of his own family suffer abuse.

  14. JACK TISDELL said:

    Violence against women, men, children and the associated bullying and psychological abuse. Is one of the greatest crimes that can be perpetrated by a human being on a fellow human. Psychological control of another human often exercised by women is of an equal magnitude of evil in my view.
    Sexual predators commonly abuse for power. They occupy a position in the Prison Populations worldwide below the informer, the Judas, the Carey, or the Lundy.Often they have delusions of status, grandeur and superior intelligence. They commonly try to ingrate themselves into a persons private life. I will leave it at that.
    Jack Tisdall

  15. My thanks to you all for your comments on this difficult subject.

    Violent acts against the person are perpetrated both by men and women belonging to all strata's of society. It matters not whether they are of high or of low intelligence, whether they are poor or rich.
    I understand that men who rape are control freaks and that it is not a sexual act in itself, but an attempt to show complete domination over the victim.
    As a simile: it can be likened to the invasion of one country by another country, whereby the invader takes total control over the people, subjecting them to its will and the loss of all material possessions and sense of identity. When the oppressed attempt to retaliate then further physical & psychological methods are instigated. Fear, torture and even execution is used to maintain and exercise supreme control.

    Throughout the world women are marginalised; 95% of all work in the world is done by women for which they receive only 5% of its wealth and the inadequacies of the patriarchal society must carry the blame.
    All too often I hear my brother men referring to their wives as 'the little woman' or 'her indoors'.These derogatory statements are uttered, I believe, by men who feel (somewhere) inside themselves to be inadequate. They need to use reductionist remarks to describe their partners and to make themselves feel superior. Little do they realise that they are showing themselves to be the opposite.

    We shape ourselves and ultimately the world by our attitudes, thoughts and the words that we use. This was explained to me many years ago by a wise woman and I think she was correct.
    We can make changes within and reshape ourselves by adopting her advice, for it is never too late to make changes.


Your comments are a welcome addition to the activity of this blog however,the use of swear words is not permitted.