The National Women’s Council of Ireland has published a report calling for reforms in the criminal, civil and family courts to protect victims’ wellbeing.
The NWC recommended a system of supports for victims of domestic and sexual violence in court, increased training to deal with victims, and fewer delays in court proceedings.
It also recommended introducing support personnel from minority groups to “enhance a level of understanding” between the victims and the courts.
NWC Director Orla O’Connor told Newstalk Breakfast the report “comes from looking at a victim’s journey”.
She said many victims could be in the criminal, civil and child protections courts at the same time, which is “extremely traumatising and revictimising”.
“Our legal processes work in isolation, so they work in isolation for the victim,” she said.
Ms O’Connor said women face delays in court proceedings or have to face their perpetrator in court.
She also said children in child protection proceedings are interviewed “again and again”, which is damaging to their development.
"As more women come and report in - which is what's happening at the moment - this is an experience for much more people now than it was before,” she said.
Ms O’Connor said there are “very specific” things courts can do to support survivors of sexual and domestic violence.
“Both in and out of the court process, for the victim it's that issue of communication,” she said.
"Whether it's the Guards, whether it's Tusla, whether it's the DPP, that communication has to flow between the two.”
She also said the “two-year” delay in proceedings must be shortened to prevent cases being dismissed before they can even reach the court.
Ms O’Connor said we should look at things “from a victim’s perspective”.
When asked about a UK rule that transgender women who are perpetrators of assault should be referred to by their preferred pronouns, Ms O’Connor said we have to consider both what is in the protocol and the victim’s perspective.
However, Ms O’Connor explained: “We've just done a huge piece of research in terms of what is victimising, revictimising and traumatising- and that isn't an issue.”
“These [findings] are really serious issues that have come up in our research in terms of the changes that are needed.”
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