FreeDessie Ellis, Sinn Féin TD, spoke this morning on the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Bill 2014.
Yesterday, I stood with party colleagues and other members of the Oireachtas at the Dáil gates for a minute’s silence in memory of the men and women and children who have died at the hands of their partner or ex-partner since 1996. This was a very poignant event coming on the International Day Opposing Violence Against Women. A shocking 78 women and 10 children have been murdered in these 18 years. The event was organised by Women’s Aid who had laid out shoes along a blank sheet to mark a timeline of these needless and tragic deaths. Shoes, flat heels and sandals standing in silent memoriam of the lives stolen. These lives as the vigil so movingly stated are stolen lives. They are stolen from their families, their friends, their communities. Snuffed out by an abuser who should’ve been stopped.
One in five women experience domestic violence in their lifetime. This ranges from physical, emotional, sexual to financial abuse. From abuse, threats to kill and abuse behaviour, to stalking and harassment. By their very nature these are mostly crimes which go on behind closed doors when the curtains are drawn when the world around stops looking. But it also happens right out in the open.
We must strive to improve public awareness of the risk factors of domestic violence and to encourage everyone to make their homes, their community, their circle of friends, a place where this kind of abuse will never be accepted. Because unfortunately we have a culture today where subtly every day teaches young men to do many of the things that can lead to domestic violence. This trend in our society is called the ‘rape culture’. Its name is shocking and some dismiss this as over over the top but the symptoms are undeniable and its effects illustrated by those 78 empty womens’ shoes are too horrific to ignore. Rape culture is the tendency in modern culture to dehumanise, devalue and commodify women. It has always been there but has become much more obvious in the modern era with the partial successes of the early feminist movement and the 24-hour consumer capitalist culture which has sprung up alongside the internet.
Technology is not to blame but it is often the medium through which this culture finds its most vile expression. This tendency creates a culture which normalises the idea that women’s bodies are not wholly their own. It encourages blaming rape victims instead of rapists. It jokes about men who beat their partners and it belittles, demonises and threatens all those who challenge it. This is the culture our young men are growing up in.
It seems like every week there is a new case of a woman who has been a victim of sexual assault who has watched her abuser go free because a judge felt sympathetic to the criminal. These judges have handed down fines for which must be the vile and reprehensible crimes a person can commit. This is a slap in the face to those who sought to have their attacker prosecuted but it also says to women and girls who are victims of sexual violence: Don’t bother, the state will not punish your attacker but you will be put through the mill anyway.
As with many of our worst social issues, there are why many whose voices are not heard. This is why we have brought the bill. It’s to try to make it easier for people to flee this kind of abuse. It is crucial that we promote opposition to this kind of behaviour.
But it is also essential, that people who seek to leave, to get out can do so, can be supported, validated and protected. That is what we seek to do.
Deputy Noel Coonan (Fine Gael) has jihad it up to here with the water protests.
“I come from the town of Templemore where we train every Garda in the country and the people down there and right across the country that I’ve met are horrified by what’s going on. And I think that it has been an awakening call for them because they are now concerned about elements of socialists, the so-called wealthy Socialist Party led by ‘The Murph’ and company and aided and abetted by extremists within our colleagues here from Sinn Féin. And I think that that needs to be nipped in the bud. The people have given that signal to us now: nip that in the bud, if not we are facing what is potentially an ISIS situation in the Middle East if those people are allowed get on to do what they’re doing. God help this country and people realise that.
We talk about Dublin and the people who are protesting here in Dublin the socialist led group, they don’t care about the country people. Country people all over down through the years had to pay for their water. Be it in group schemes, private wells, whatever and they want to act like parasites and live off of the country people. They’ve never acknowledged the role that the people down the country, small business people who operate from their own home who have to pay for their water. Businesses in the country who’ve had to pay for their water, the role that they have given in this country in bad times. They provided the money.”
“I look forward to seeing already the implementation on the ground in my own town €5m has been spent on fixing leaking pipes. Pipes that had local authorities out every other day, fixing pipes along the road, such a waste of resources. Businesses, substantial businesses without water, whole housing estates without water and when you look into the ground which I did myself, the pipes had just simply melted….
And of course, water charges are not popular but the social benefits that we will reap now and into the future and already the plans for Roscommon are being implemented and people will in the very short-term I expect and we’ve been told will benefit from that. We will all reap it in the end. We are building something for the future here. We are addressing problems that under the previous system could not be addressed in the past. So let us not be swatted from our goal in returning this country to its productive very best by those who talk but don’t have a clue how to do it.”
Mayo TD Michelle Mulherin (Fine Gael) speaking in the Dáil this morning on Irish Water.