Gender-based violence – a global problem

Sir, – Although the issue of gender-based violence (GBV) has recently come to the fore with the tragic death of Ashling Murphy and the RTÉ Primetime special Investigates, it is important to remember that this is not not a crisis exclusive to Ireland. It is a “pandemic within a pandemic”, affecting millions of women and girls around the world.

GBV is one of the most widespread and fundamental human rights violations that undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims. Globally, it is estimated that one in three women will experience physical or sexual violence in her lifetime. Yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence and inaction.

GBV knows no social, economic or national boundaries, but the stark reality is that women and girls in developing countries, who are hugely affected by climate change, conflict and Covid-19, are the most vulnerable. .

Covid-19 has led to an increase in GBV, with millions of women and girls having limited access to functional services, putting them at risk.

This situation is compounded by conflict and the continued acceleration of the climate crisis which has seen livelihoods destroyed and people displaced, multiplying GBV risk factors.

The Irish Consortium on Gender-Based Violence (ICGBV) is an alliance of human rights, humanitarian and development organisations, Irish Aid and the Defense Forces formed in 2005 to combat against the high levels of violence perpetrated in international conflict and crisis situations.

This week, it launched a new strategic plan for 2021 to 2026 in which it set out its priorities for addressing GBV.

I welcome Justice Minister Helen McEntee’s pledge that the imminent third national strategy on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence must take a zero-tolerance approach in Ireland, but the government must also leverage its political capital and leadership to address GBV and advance gender equality internationally.

In recent years, Ireland has demonstrated its commitment and leadership in efforts to end GBV. Now more than ever, this vital work will require increased funding to ensure that we create a world where survivors are supported and protected, a world where women’s rights are valued, and a world beyond fear for women and girls.

To achieve lasting change, our new strategy makes recommendations in three areas: promoting GBV prevention programs and gender equality to address power imbalances between men and women, promoting mitigating GBV risks in humanitarian and development work, and strengthening the response to GBV through survivor-centred service delivery.

GBV is a global issue that we cannot continue to ignore. We must act now to ensure a world free of violence for women and girls everywhere. – Yours, etc.,

CAOIMHE de BARRA,

General manager,

Trocaire,

Chair,

Irish Consortium

on gender-based violence,

Maynooth,

Co Kildare.

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