Most women killed by partner or ex: 230 died violently since 1996, two thirds in their own home

Most women killed by partner or ex: 230 died violently since 1996, two thirds in their own home

More than half of women murdered here since 1996 have died at the hands of a current or former partner, new figures on femicide in Ireland show.

With strangers making up just 13% of perpetrators of female homicide in Ireland, almost nine in 10 of these women have been killed by a man known to them.

The stark figures are contained in the Women’s Aid Femicide Report 2019, due to be launched today.

The report, ‘A Legacy of Loss — Femicide Watch 2019’, finds:

  • Five women died violently in the Republic of Ireland during 2019
  • Since 1996, when Women’s Aid records begin, 230 females have died violently, including 16 children, ranging from five months to 14 years old, who were killed alongside their mothers
  • Almost two-thirds (61%) of women were killed in their own homes
  • In resolved cases, 100 women were murdered by a partner or ex-partner (56%)
  • Another 20 women (11%) were killed by a male relative, and in 37 cases (21%), women were killed by a man known to them
  • In this time, there have been 22 murder-suicides, where the killer has killed a woman and then himself during the incident or shortly afterwards. In 21 of these cases, the killer was a partner or ex of the victim
  • In the 20 cases where a woman was killed by a male relative, 16 were killed by their sons (80%)
  • Women of any age can be victims of homicide, with women under the age of 35 making up 51% of cases in Ireland

“These figures should shame Irish society,” said Sarah Benson, Women’s Aid chief executive. “The lives of the women and children named in our report were so valuable, so full of potential which is now unrealised. We want each of them to be remembered for their achievements, their qualities, their hopes and dreams.”

With Women’s Aid responding to 44 calls a day in 2018, it says it hears from women daily about the types of abuse and behaviour that precedes femicide.

Last year, Women’s Aid recorded 16,994 disclosures of abuse against women, and 3,728 disclosures of child abuse. The organisation also heard 898 disclosures where a man told a woman he would kill her, the children, a family member, or himself.

Another 3,816 cases of physical abuse were also recorded, in which a man choked, smothered, beaten, or threatened to beat his partner with a weapon.

Women’s Aid also recorded 561 disclosures of stalking both online and in person, and 141 reports of assault during pregnancy.

Ms Benson said: “When women call Women’s Aid and tell us that they are afraid for their lives, we believe them.

Femicide by an intimate partner must not be accepted as a fact of life in our society. Women should be safe in their homes and in their relationships. And we must recognise the strong connection between the killing of women and domestic abuse.

Women’s Aid is now calling for the introduction of a system of domestic homicide reviews (DHRs) as part of a range of key initiatives it says will help save women and children’s lives.

“These reviews should be independently chaired, have powers to make and monitor recommendations to improve prevention,” it said.

“Any DHR system must also include the testimony of family members of the woman, her informal community networks including friends and social groups.”

The organisation is also calling for increased recognition and management of risk factors for intimate partner homicide, and for improved psychological support for children and other bereaved family members.

Women’s Aid is due to publish its full report at seminar this morning. Speakers will include Kathleen Chada, a victim advocate whose two sons were murdered by their father, and Norah Gibbons, chair of the Independent Study on Familicide and Domestic Homicide Review.

- Women’s Aid operates a 24-hour freephone helpline, available on 1800 341 900.

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