Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls

Workers Party representative Lily Kerr has told an all party workshop at Stormont that legislating against on-line abuse and holding social media companies to account is important, but that, on its own, it will not eradicate the problem of threats and attacks on women and girls.

“Misogyny is a societal problem and not confined to council chambers and seats of government”, Lily said .

“Of course we must condemn and counter abuse and attacks on public representatives but not at the expense of the thousands of women in society who are also daily subjected to abuse, discrimination, marginalisation, physical, financial and sexual abuse and murder”, she said.

“For many that could be an uncomfortable conversation but if we are serious about the abuse of women then it is one we need to have”, Lily added.

“The ruthlessness of zero hours contracts, the exploitative nature of much part time employment, the so called ‘glass ceiling’ and the continued marginalisation of women and girls and their exclusion from many aspects of political, social, economic and cultural life – is just as threatening, and should be met with the same outrage resolve, as online abuse and threats”, Lily added.

The #Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls workshop was organised by the Police Service of Northern Ireland in recognition of the growing levels of online abuse directed at female politicians and ahead of next May’s Local Government Elections .

Picture: Workers Party representatives Joanne Lowry (left) and Lily Kerr with Assistant Chief Constable Bobby Singleton and Inspector Jane Brown.

‘Tis the Season: domestic abuse at Christmas and New Year

Incidents of domestic abuse increase sharply at this time of year. Between Christmas Day and Boxing Day last year the PSNI received 245 domestic abuse calls. Between New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day a further 275 incidents were recorded.

Year on year, there are around 30,000 recorded incidents of domestic abuse and on average a woman in an abusive relationship is murdered here every other month.

Yet Northern Ireland remains the only part of the UK without a specific strategy to protect women and girls from violence. While several pieces of uncoordinated legislation have been introduced in recent years and initiatives such as ‘Ask for Angela’have been adopted, there is still no overall strategy to protect women and girls from violence.

Recent arrests operations of suspects wanted on bench warrants in connection with
domestic abuse and for breaches of protective orders, are not enough. The
system is failing women.

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.

Violence against women and girls takes many forms, including domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, child, early and forced marriage, trafficking, and increasingly online through cyber bullying.

There is never a time of year when domestic abuse should ever be tolerated. If you or someone you know is suffering abuse or violence, help and support is available.

Follow the link for Contact Numbers, Help and Advice

Domestic Abuse, Sexual Abuse and Violence Against Women and Girls

The Workers Party has made a formal submission to the Department of Justice’s consultation on a strategy to address Domestic and Sexual Abuse and Violence Against Women and Girls.

During 2020-2021, police responded to 31,196 domestic abuse incidents in Northern
Ireland. There were also 3,335 sexual offences and yet much of the extent and
impact of domestic and sexual abuse remains hidden.

The Party’s submission highlighted the fact that, as we enter the sixth year of the current seven year strategy, very little progress has been achieved since 2016.

While recognising that domestic and sexual abuse knows no boundaries factors such as class, cultural, ethnicity and sexual orientation increased the vulnerability of women and girls.

Financial abuse was rightly identified in the Department’s consultation document as a form of coercive behaviour but the Party’s submission took this further, going on to identify policies which condemn women and girls to exist on inadequate benefits, low pay and inferior terms and conditions of service as equally culpable. Zero-hour contracts and precarious employment can also be a form of violence and abuse.

The submission also called for adequate and ring fenced funding to ensure implimentation of the strartegy and for the Assembly to be the statutory provider for safe housing and hostel accommdation.