Belfast Telegraph

Women suffering from spending cuts

Women suffering at the hands of a violent partner are bearing the brunt of cuts on statutory agencies, it has been claimed.

Safe Ireland revealed that one day last year 555 women and 324 children were accommodated or received support from a domestic violence service - that is 23 women and 13 children who needed help every hour of November 4, 2010.

Sharon O'Halloran, director of Safe Ireland, said there had to be leadership from politicians and the new president, and a complete systems overhaul so women and children are put centre-stage.

"At present, women and children were feeling the brunt of statutory agency policies that were often about saving money over safety," she said.

"We have to go beyond numbers, to acknowledge that each statistic represents a crime against a woman, a mother, an expectant mother, a toddler or a teenager, each living with fear, brutality and uncertainty in their own homes.

"The burden of the ongoing evidence about the enormity of domestic violence means that we must all act quickly, with responsibility and unwavering commitment. This action and commitment has to begin with those in leadership - our president and our politicians."

Figures in Safe Ireland's third annual census revealed that 108 women were accommodated in refuges, 98 women were in transitional housing, and 349 women accessed a range of one-to-one or group support services. The snapshot showed another 18 women could not be accommodated in refuges because there was not enough space.

The 24-hour census formed the introduction to Now You're Talking, a series of national conversations on domestic violence. The first featured a debate with the country's seven presidential candidates.

Data showed that while the majority of the women were Irish (78%), women were from more than 35 nationalities. Seven out of 10 women were aged between 16 and 45, with 36% between 16 and 35, and 34% between 35 and 45.

The figures were released just weeks after Safe Ireland's annual report said that 7,235 women and 2,850 children received support from services in 2010.

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