Even though the Domestic Abuse and Civil Proceedings Act (Northern Ireland) 2021 passed into law on 1 March 2021 there are still huge gaps in legislation protecting women and girls.
In the past year there have been nine domestic violence related murders in Northern Ireland, more than 31,000 recorded incidents of domestic abuse and a significant increase in offences of harassment.
England, Scotland and Wales all have adopted specific strategies dedicated to tackling gender-based violence to help bring an end to violence against women and girls – but there is no such legislation is in place in Northern Ireland.
It is also now widely accepted that children living with domestic violence are also at greater risk of experiencing neglect, physical and/or sexual abuse
The shortcomings and delays in introducing legislation here have been criticised by the Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland, Jacqui Durkan.
However, legislation alone, vital as it is, will not be enough to overcome a culture which sees women and girls as objects and commodities and tolerates misogyny and prejudicial gender-based attitudes.
Nor will it be overcome for as long as we are subject to an economic and social system which has an intrinsic self interest in sustaining and perpetuating gender discrimination in its pursuit of profits, lower wages and working class division.