Today, Monday July 1 sees the entry into force of the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.
The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission has marked this significant date by setting out its recommendations for key priority actions from the State in the attached policy statement.
Priority areas identified for policy and legislative action to meet State obligations under the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention include:
- Data collection and reporting mechanisms on violence against women are currently lacking and must be made more robust if the State is to understand the nature and scale of the issue.
- Focus is required on combatting violence against specific groups of women such as women with disabilities, women from Traveller and Roma communities, LGBTI+ women and women in institutional settings.
- The State is required to develop gender-sensitive asylum and reception procedures and support services for asylum seekers – overall the protection of women from violence should be central to immigration reform.
- Access to specialist support services must be improved. Recent reports indicate that Ireland has less than a third of the number of domestic violence refuges required under EU standards, nine counties have no refuges. Services for victims must receive sustainable funding to meet diverse needs including for those with disabilities, and those who need interpretation
- Access to justice for victims must be prioritised through training for Gardaí and prosecutors. Changes are required in the courts to ensure victims and children’s rights are protected during proceedings.
- Promotion of gender equality – While the recent State awareness campaign on sexual violence and harassment is welcome, specific groups should be targeted for information including women and girls with disabilities.The Commission is also concerned about the limited access to comprehensive relationship and sexuality education for children in Ireland, including education that raises awareness of and fosters responsible sexual behaviour.
The Commission, as Ireland’s national human rights and equality body, will actively participate in monitoring the implementation of the Convention in Ireland, and will independently report to the Council of Europe’s expert body (called GREVIO) on State progress to combat and prevent violence against women and domestic violence.