Belfast Telegraph

Massive rise in Northern Ireland domestic violence leads human rights group to call for action

28,000 incidents recorded in Northern Ireland during past year alone

By Sophie Inge

Domestic violence in Northern Ireland has reached its highest level in more than a decade.

More than 28,000 incidents were recorded in the last year - with police responding to one call-out every 19 minutes.

It has prompted demands for more action to tackle violence in the home.

Les Allamby from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission said: "There have been over 28,000 incidents of domestic violence in Northern Ireland over the past year alone, which includes violence against both men and women in the family or domestic unit.

"Nevertheless, it should not be overlooked that the majority of victims of domestic violence are women and that domestic violence against them is part of a wider pattern of discrimination and inequality."

PSNI figures show there were 28,465 domestic violence calls between July 2015 and June 2016 - the highest since 2004.

As the world marks International End Violence Against Women Day today, the commission is calling for action.

It wants the UK Government and Northern Ireland Executive to strengthen its human rights protections and ratify the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

Mr Allamby said: "Violence against women includes stalking, sexual harassment, sexual violence, physical, and psychological abuse at the hands of intimate partners, forced marriage, and forced sterilisation.

"These are all are deeply traumatising acts of violence and we should always seek to do more to ensure our protections reach the highest level of human rights standards.

"We are therefore calling on the UK Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to ratify the Istanbul Convention so that it can be implemented into domestic law and practice."

Meanwhile, a charity called on the Government to continue its financial support to victims.

Jan Melia from Women's Aid Federation Northern Ireland said: "It is encouraging that the Government is currently taking action on domestic violence to criminalise the psychological element of abuse, or what is known as 'coercive control'.

"But we also need Government commitment to continue funding the vital services which support the victims, like Women's Aid. Our support services are quite literally a lifeline for many women and children who flee their homes due to domestic violence."

According to the charity, last year over 1,200 women and children stayed in Women's Aid refuges in the country because their homes were unsafe.

The charity also supported over 6,000 women through its outreach services and the 24-hour domestic violence and sexual violence helpline managed 25,935 calls.

"These are not just 'women's issues', they are everyone's problem," Ms Melia said.

"We should all be outraged that women in our society suffer rape, sexual violence, female genital mutilation, so-called honour-based violence, human trafficking and domestic violence."

Last month a mother who suffered years of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her violent partner, Greg Logue, claimed domestic abuse victims are being failed by Stormont.

Terri-Louise Graham from Londonderry wants legislation here brought into line with that in the UK to protect victims from psychological abuse.

"I don't know what the hold-up is. Bring it in now, because it will save lives," she said.

International End Violence Against Women Day marks the beginning of 16 days of activism on violence against women and girls.

Belfast Telegraph


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