Children’s Rights Alliance says Zero Tolerance Strategy sets the tone for what the public expect from Government when addressing domestic, sexual and gender-based violence
The Department of Justice and Minister Helen McEntee today published the Third National Domestic, Sexual & Gender-Based Violence Strategy. The goal and guiding mission of the Strategy is Zero Tolerance.
Commenting on today’s publication, Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance said, “We welcome today’s publication of the new national strategy to end domestic, sexual and gender-based violence (DSGBV) paving the way for a new concerted approach to addressing violence endemic in our society. A statement of zero tolerance acknowledges that as a society we can do better, and as legislators and decision makers, Government will do better. The four pillars that uphold this strategy – Prevention, Protection, Prosecution, Policy Co-ordination – will help transform the systems that should support our citizens. We particularly welcome the progress made with this strategy with the clear inclusion of children and young people recognised as both witnesses and as individual victims/survivors, compared to the limited references in its predecessor. This is an important recognition, reflecting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Istanbul Convention.
It is very positive to see an ambitious blueprint shaped by the voices and experiences of victims for:
- New statutory agency to drive and implement the Strategy.
- More protection with a commitment to increase the number of refuge centres from 141 to 280
- Improved prosecutions – doubling the maximum sentence for assault causing harm from five to 10 years.
- Safety online, calling for an Online Safety Commissioner with robust compliance and enforcement powers
However, it is essential that we see funding, staff and resources put behind this. The commitment to double the number of refuges is welcome but falls short of the 340 recommended by the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention. It is critical that those escaping violence have somewhere safe to go to, that is easily accessible. Children and young people rely on the connective tissue of community supports and their school. Access to refuge should not be at the cost of these wraparound supports. There are nine counties without any refuge centre and with a rise in incidents of violence last year, it resulted in two thirds of requests for refuge being turned down. For children and young people experiencing violence, this is simply not good enough. The urgency for action cannot be overstated,” stated Tanya Ward.
“The strategy recognises the central role education will play in changing understanding, attitudes and behaviour towards domestic, sexual and gender-based violence,” continued Tanya Ward. “The commitments on education importantly emphasise the need for age-appropriate DSGBV awareness and education programmes and initiatives that reach those outside of the mainstream settings. This community approach will help embed a zero-tolerance approach in all the touchpoints of a child’s life. We also welcome the call to ensure the review the Department of Education’s Action Plan on Bullying considers the specific issues of gender identity, bullying, sexual harassment and violence, sex and gender stereotyping and sexual orientation.
Child and Family Justice
“There is a clear consideration for children and young people and how important their experiences are in ensuring this strategy works towards its ultimate goal. We particularly welcome some key measures in the strategy announced today including:
- Roll out and progress development of additional comprehensive Barnahus facilities (in Dublin and Cork).
- Prepare guidelines on children rights and DSGBV in court settings that include training on children rights and child friendly communication
- Ensure that all professionals and frontline workers involved in DSGBV work with adults and children in the courts and in the justice, legal and policing systems have the skills and understanding of DSGBV to equip them with the necessary expertise they require
- Progressing and implementing the new Family Court Bill and establish the new family law court at Hammond Lane and ensure the provision of adequate, accessible and appropriate facilities including childcare.
- Seek to increase and widen access to legal aid resources available for both adult and child victims/ survivors of DSGBV linked to the review of the Civil Legal Aid Scheme (including raising income thresholds).
“We commend the work done to pull together such a comprehensive strategy and we welcome the supporting implementation plan because it is long time for action on this. The work starts now," concluded Tanya Ward.
For media queries please contact Emma Archbold: firstname.lastname@example.org / 087 9971410
Notes to Editors:
• Tanya Ward, CEO of the Children’s Rights Alliance is available for media interviews.
• Third National Domestic, Sexual & Gender-Based Violence Strategy is available of Department of Justice website here.
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About the Children’s Rights Alliance
Founded in 1995, the Children’s Rights Alliance unites over 140 members working together to make Ireland one of the best places in the world to be a child. Further information is available at: www.childrensrights.ie or on Twitter, @ChildRightsIRL.