Level of domestic violence in Ireland "grossly underestimated"

The National Women’s Council of Ireland says at least one in five women in Ireland will experience domestic abuse

Level of domestic violence in Ireland "grossly underestimated"

Posed Image: Dominic Lipinski PA Archive/PA Images

Domestic violence experts have warned that a lack of clear data on violent crime against women in Ireland has left the problem “grossly underestimated.”

The National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI) said at least one in five women in Ireland will experience domestic abuse.

The council said authorities do not have a full understanding of the nature and extent of the problem and said we are, “not doing enough to protect women and girls from some of the most serious and damaging crimes in this country.”

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre CEO, Noeline Blackwell is among the speakers at a conference in Dublin today examining ways to gather new information that could help protect victims of domestic abuse.

She said state services - including the gardaí, Tusla, the HSE, Courts Services and the CSO - urgently need to record and share data accurately in order to provide a clear picture of the level and depth of violent crime against women.

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre CEO, Noeline Blackwell 04-Apr-2013 Image: Niall Carson PA Archive/PA Images

“Data is collected somewhat piecemeal in Ireland, it doesn’t link up, and therefore we can’t understand the problem that well," she said.

"When we can’t understand the problem, it is very hard to propose good solutions."

Orla O’Connor, NWCI director and chair of the Irish Observatory on Violence against Women (IOVAW) said data collection and analysis of domestic and sexual violence is at crisis point in Ireland. 

“It seems ludicrous to write policy, without knowing clearly and comprehensively the facts behind it,” she said.

“We need our authorities to properly record data, from the police, to the court services and the health services. 

“Our current system is archaic and not fit for purpose. This knowledge is critical in addressing the high numbers of women who are failed by the system, and the low conviction rates for perpetrators.”

The conference at the Dublin City Council offices this morning was organised in conjunction with European Parliament and is calling on authorities to work towards ratifying the Council of Europe Convention on violence against women - otherwise known as the Istanbul Convention.

Christina Olsen, a legal advisor and member of the Council of Europe said the convention, “sends out a clear message that violence against women is a violation of women’s fundamental human rights and is deeply rooted in the inequality between women and men in society.” 

“We encourage Ireland to ratify the Istanbul Convention as soon as possible,” she said.  “It calls on State parties to protect women from violence and abuse by ensuring, coordinating and appropriately funding a combination of preventive measures, adequate legislation and effective state and non-state frontline services.”

Irish members of the European Parliament, Lynn Boylan and Deirdre Clune were amongst the speakers to address this morning’s conference alongside the Minister of State for Justice and Equality, David Stanton.