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Women's Aid calls for review of laws around domestic abuse

The group is calling for a 24/7 on call system for emergency barring orders and for protection from cuts in the upcoming budget.

Image: Oleg Golovnev via Shutterstock

A GROUP SUPPORTING women who are victims of domestic abuse have called on the government to prioritise the review of the Domestic Violence Legislation in Ireland.

Women’s Aid said today that a review is necessary in order to fully protect those women who are still left unprotected under the current system.

The call came today at the launch of the group’s annual ‘One in Five Women’ campaign which is part of the global 16 days of action opposing violence against women.

Women’s Aid said full protection can be achieved by providing a 24/7 on call system for emergency barring orders where women can access legal protection when they need it the most, and by extending eligibility for legal protection to women in dating relationships not living with their partners.

Speaking outside Dáil Éireann today, Margaret Martin, Director of Women’s Aid said:

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

Martin said many women are afraid they will not be believed or will be blamed and others feel isolated or struggle to describe their situation.

As part of their campaign, Women’s Aid have launched a video to raise awareness and encourage women to find their voice and call the group’s helpline.

Women’s Aid will also launch their ‘Ballooon Action’ this morning by releasing balloons outside the Dáil and called on the public to join in the campaign.

Emergency protection

Martin said the group recently commission research on international best practice in domestic violence legislation and came up with a series of recommendations to increase protection for victims of abuse.

She said one of the main problems for women is the the lack of emergency protection when courts are not sitting which leaves women vulnerable to further violence and serious harm.

Women like Ciara* who rang us shortly after a violent assault by her partner which was witnessed by her 5 year old son.  By the time the Gardaí came, her partner had fled.  The Gardaí advised Ciara to seek a Barring Order as she feared that her partner would attack her again and she was desperate to have him barred from the home.  However, it was 8pm on a Friday evening and no Court was open. All refuges in her area were full and Ciara felt she would be placing her family at risk from her partner’s violence if she stayed with them.  She had no choice but to remain at home with no protection until Monday morning when the Court re-opened.  That weekend was a very fearful one as her partner could return at any moment.

Martin said the group was “deeply worried” about the impact of Budget 2013 on community groups and services for domestic violence.

Since 2008 Women’s Aid has experienced a 19 per cent drop in state funding and she said any further cut would mean a reduction in vital services.

“Protecting the vulnerable in the recession must surely include protecting women and children from domestic violence,” she added.

*Details have been changed to protect identity and preserve confidentiality.

Related: Four out of five women turned away from overstretched domestic violence centres>

Read: Domestic violence group encourage victims to come forward after judge’s comments>

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