Men’s violence against women needs to end, organisations say

Emma Kilcawley Hemani

The murder of 23-year-old Offaly schoolteacher Ashling Murphy has started an intense discussion surrounding how men’s violence against women can be combatted. It has promoted people, communities, and organisations to call for change.

Recently, Rape Crisis Network Ireland (RCNI) called for action to end violence against women perpetrated by men:

“We honour Ashling with our commitment to end men’s violence against women..The murder of Ashling has drawn universal focus on what we can do as a nation to combat violence against women and girls.”

Clíona Saidlear, RCNI Executive Director added, “we have not yet built and secured an infrastructure commensurate with the scale of the problem of men’s violence against women, but this is the moment that government can choose to deliver [such as] a review of the infrastructure that supports survivors of domestic and sexual violence is where we start.”

A video posted to the Women’s Aid Instagram account on the January 15th showed the names of 244 women who have been violently murdered by men since 1996. Six women died violently in 2021 alone, and just 12 days into this year, another woman’s life was unjustly taken.

The video was published as part of their Femicide Watch initiative, where they publish updated figures of women violently murdered each year.

According to Women’s Aid, on average across the world, 137 women are killed by their partner or a male member of their family every day.

Femicide is the killing of women and girls by men, precisely because of their gender. Women’s Aid state that “femicide is both a cause and a result of gender inequality and discrimination, both of which are root causes of all violence against women”.

Most cases of femicide are committed by a partner or ex-partner – according to the figures released, in 87 per cent of resolved cases, women were killed by a man known to them. In 2021, nine out of 10 women murdered knew their killer.

Figures show that of 191 resolved cases, 57 per cent of these (one in every two femicide victims) were killed by a current or former male partner. 152 women, or 62 per cent of the 244 were killed in their own homes, meaning that a woman is more likely to die in their own home according to Women’s Aid.

Since 1996, 18 children have been killed alongside their mothers.

Women’s Aid state: “We record these killings to illustrate the danger posed to women and to better understand how to increase protection of women and children. Our aim is to continue to try and break the pattern of male violence against women in the hope of preventing any further loss of life.”

Ashling Murphy was just 23 when she was murdered while going for a run. Women under the age of 35 make up 50 per cent of femicide cases in Ireland.

According to Women’s Aid, femicide is often linked to ongoing physical, sexual, emotional, and economic abuse by a partner against a woman. For things to change, it needs to change at a foundational level with improved teaching and a change in attitudes.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has said the new government strategy to combat violence against women will take a “zero tolerance” approach. The Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence (DSGBV) audit in 2021 recommended a DSGBV Office which would include the provision of supports to service and policy makers.

Emma Kilcawley Hemani

Image credit: Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash