Violence against women: new office not the answer

FOLLOWING a special meeting of the Violence Against Women (VAW) non-governmental sector, we strongly rejected the recently announced COSC: the Irish Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (Irish Examiner, May 17).

Over the past 30 years we have worked with successive governments to address women’s protection, services and prevention of all forms of such violence. The taskforce report of 1997 adopted a UN definition of all forms of violence against women and supported the development of an integrated approach to domestic violence, as well as to rape and sexual assault.

The new COSC office has major shortcomings that gives us cause for serious concern. The new office has a remit that:

n is limited to prevention of domestic violence, sidelining the critical role of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform (DJELR) in protecting women and criminalising all forms of VAW.

nfails to hold perpetrators accountable to the criminal justice system.

nfails to identify rape, sexual assault, trafficking, prostitution and pornography as violations.

nexcludes NGO involvement in the new office, and hence the NGOs’ expertise in these areas and

nemphasises raising awareness which international practice has demonstrated to be totally ineffective unless backed up by strong enforcement (as with drink-driving).

We, the undersigned organisations, demand postponement of any further development of the COSC office and request an urgent meeting of the national steering committee on violence against women immediately to review the name, remit and the role of any proposed office integrating work on violence against women.

Ellen O’Malley

Dunlop CEO

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre

Fiona Crowley

Research/Legal Manager

Amnesty International

Fiona Neary

Director

Rape Crisis Network

Gerardine Rowley

PRO

Ruhama

Grainne Healy

National Domestic Violence Intervention Agency

Joanna McMinn

Director

National Women’s Council of Ireland

Margaret Martin

Director

Women’s Aid

Mary Crilly

Director

Sexual Violence Centre

Cork

Monica O’Connor

Irish Observatory on Violence

Against Women

Niamh Wilson

Freedom from Pornography Campaign

Rosaleen McDonagh

Coordinator

Violence Against Women Programme

Sharon O’Halloran

Director

National Network of Women’s Refuges

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