Enough is enough. More needs to change to protect women in Ireland from the threat and fear of violence.
As a society, we must commit to a zero-tolerance approach to violence against women. To see this, we must all commit to change.
We see male violence against women and women fear the threat of violence. This is unacceptable.
We know that violence against women comes in many forms and on a large scale.
Most assaults on women go unreported. Many women continue to be harassed in everyday life. More live under intimidating control, hidden behind doors or in silence.
Since 1996, 247 women have died violently in Ireland, often young women, nine out of ten of whom know their killer. Two thirds died in their own homes.
There is a small but significant group of men in our society who commit acts of violence against others with a sense of impunity.
There are some men in Ireland today who believe that women should be controlled and subordinate to them and that violence and coercive control is an acceptable way to achieve these ends. To change this, we must send a clear, consistent, and timely message that this is unacceptable behavior.
This must be pushed forward by all of us.
To see this shift, many different factors need to be addressed, and we need a societal response where we all play our part: not just a criminal justice response.
We must give vulnerable women the right to information that can protect their lives and well-being.
Many women find themselves in relationships with men who have been abusive in previous relationships. Men convicted of past violence against women should be included on a domestic violence offenders register, which should be accessible to women who are in a relationship and concerned about their partner.
This register would not be publicly available, but people in relationships could access information about partners, and the gardaí should be able to warn new partners about high-risk men.
All women have the right to go about their daily lives without harassment. A zero-tolerance policy regarding harassment of women on public transport is crucial. We also need to support viewers, who often feel powerless or afraid to intervene, and encourage pro-social behavior and attitudes. Practical changes should include requiring all transport services to have security guards on board and display information on how to report nuisance.
The creation of a dedicated Garda Public Transport Department will support deterrence and effective and rapid follow-up.
We need to change the culture of misogyny and teach respect for women early and often.
We must hold our online providers accountable for violent online images. Children and young people are to be taught respect for one another in an age-appropriate manner; what a respectful relationship looks like; gender equality; and the unacceptability of the use of force against others.
Failure to educate all children about the inappropriateness and unacceptability of violence does them a great disservice.
We must equip our service providers with resources that support and empower women. To support better knowledge, we need to collect better data on the frequency, prevalence and attitudes towards all forms of violence against women. This will also allow for better evidence-based policies to prevent and respond to the problem.
This week Fianna Fáil is hosting a series of discussions on how we can see change from all angles: how to change the culture of misogyny to respect it, what improvements are needed across the justice system to support victims and their families and ensuring access to justice and what unexplored avenues can better support women in the workplace, in the community and online.
The time for change is long overdue. Too many women and too many families have suffered. We have to ask ourselves what kind of society we want to live in safely and what it takes to do that.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/radical-reforms-needed-to-end-the-scourge-of-violence-against-women-41628678.html Radical reforms are needed to end the scourge of violence against women