Seventy-eight pairs of women’s shoes and 10 pairs of children’s shoes were placed outside the gates of Leinster House yesterday.
They were a stark reminder of the women murdered by their partners or ex-partners since 1996 and the children killed alongside their mothers.
Women’s Aid yesterday held a minute’s silence outside Dáil Éireann to remember the “stolen lives”.
Women’s Aid director Margaret Martin said action was needed now. The domestic violence service believes greater awareness will lead to an improved response to domestic abuse by the State and its agencies.
“Risk factors for intimate partner homicide include physical abuse, threats to kill, controlling behaviour, stalking, and harassment,” said Ms Martin.
“Separation is also a risk factor for escalating violence and is often the most dangerous time for women in abusive relationships,” she said.
“These types of abuse are disclosed every day by women ringing our national freephone helpline.”
Last year, more than 17,000 calls were answered by Women’s Aid .
“We listened to women disclose shocking levels of abuse. Many women felt that their situation was not being treated as seriously as it should be,” said Ms Martin.
In particular, women spoke of inconsistent responses by State institutions and agencies such as the courts and gardaí.
Ms Martin said the experiences reported by the women were supported by the recent Garda Inspectorate Report into Crime Investigation.
The report, as well as highlighting cases of individual good practice revealed very serious gaps in the official response to domestic abuse cases.
Ms Martin said Women’s Aid could not leave the safety of women and children to chance. “It is a very serious crime with very serious and wide ranging outcomes for women and children, the bleakest of which we are highlighting today.”
A recently-published report by the Justice Committee recommended emergency barring orders, the creation of the criminal offence of stalking and the call to ratify the Istanbul Convention on Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.
Ms Martin said they had been calling for the changes recommended by the committee over many years. She said the forthcoming National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence was a real opportunity to make significant advances in how Ireland responds to domestic abuse.
The minute’s silence took place ahead of the International Day Opposing Violence against Women, November 25, and the start of the Women’s Aid One in Five Women Awareness Campaign.
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