Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

More protection for victims urged

Protestors from Women's Aid outside Leinster House in Dublin
Protestors from Women's Aid outside Leinster House in Dublin

The Government must toughen domestic violence legislation to fully protect vulnerable women who are victimised, campaigners have said.

Domestic violence charity Women's Aid claimed some sufferers are invisible and not protected under the current legal system.

Margaret Martin, director, said changes needed include a 24/7 on-call system for emergency barring orders and extending the eligibility for legal protection to women dating a man and not just living with their partners.

Women's Aid is also calling for state funding for domestic violence services, which has dropped by 19% since 2008, to be protected in Budget 2013.

"Every day in Ireland women are beaten, raped and abused by those closest to them, their boyfriends, husbands and partners," said Ms Martin. "One in five women in the Republic of Ireland experience domestic violence and it can affect any woman from any walk of life.

"We understand how difficult it is for women experiencing domestic abuse to talk about what is happening. Many women are afraid that they will not be believed or that they will blamed for the abuse. Others struggle to find the words to describe their situation."

Women's Aid launched a new interactive video to raise awareness about domestic violence and released balloons to mark the global 16 Days of Action Opposing Violence against Women, which runs from Sunday on the UN Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

The video encourages women to find their voice and call the Women's Aid national freephone helpline on 1800 341 900, which received 11,000 calls last year.

Ms Martin said despite recent welcomed changes, Ireland's domestic violence legislation is still in need of major reform in order to fully protect vulnerable women and children when they need it the most.

"Many thousands of women avail of legal protection every day in this country, but there is still a significant number who cannot because they are not considered under the current arrangements," she said.

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