Refuges full more than half of times that women need them

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Refuges full more than half of times that women need them

Victims are hit, beaten with weapons, stabbed and cut, report shows


Women’s rights: (left-right) RTÉ presenter Miriam O’Callaghan, Women’s Aid director Margaret Martin, and Minister Katherine Zappone at report launch. Photo: Paul Sharp/SHARPPIX
Women’s rights: (left-right) RTÉ presenter Miriam O’Callaghan, Women’s Aid director Margaret Martin, and Minister Katherine Zappone at report launch. Photo: Paul Sharp/SHARPPIX

Women’s Aid says it is “unacceptable” that more than half of refuges are full when women and children require safe places.

The organisation released its ‘Impact Report for 2018’ which revealed 20,722 disclosures of domestic violence against women and children were made to its services last year.

Margaret Martin, director of Women’s Aid, said: “Women told our confidential services that they had been isolated from family and friends, called derogatory names, had their lives and their safety threatened.

“Women disclosed that they were hit, beaten with weapons, stabbed and cut with knives and strangled. For some women, they were beaten and strangled while they were pregnant.”

The national domestic violence support organisation responded to 15,835 calls – 44 a day – on its 24-hour national freephone helpline last year.

The service met more than 1,300 women in its Dublin based one-on-one support services, where a litany of abuse was revealed.



Ursula Regan: ‘Parents choosing garda stations as collection points’. Photo: Liam MulcahyUrsula Regan: ‘Parents choosing garda stations as collection points’. Photo: Liam Mulcahy

Ursula Regan: ‘Parents choosing garda stations as collection points’. Photo: Liam Mulcahy

“Women were left with broken bones and teeth, bruising, head injuries and internal injuries as a result of rape.

“Some women experienced miscarriage because of an assault while others were experiencing post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety,” Ms Martin said.

“We heard over 483 disclosures of women being abused during access visits, and 255 disclosures of children being abused during access visits.”

She said there was a “scandalous” situation in Ireland where refuge space for women and children was below European recommendations.

Meanwhile, refuge places that do exist are often full to capacity.

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“When the national helpline staff and volunteers have tried to find a refuge place for women and their children, on 52pc of occasions, the refuge was full.

“This is an unacceptable situation and leaves our support workers having to tell women and their children that there is no safe place to go on too many occasions,” she said.

Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone, who launched the report, said she was aware of concerns in relation to the number of emergency refuge spaces.

“We do need more. It is true that we need to improve access to safe and secure accommodation for women,” she said.

“We are consulting with service users and stakeholders in conducting a review of domestic violence accommodation both within the Greater Dublin area, as well as moving then through to the rest of the country.

“I have requested that the final document is published after its completion this year.”

However, she confirmed a new refuge will open in south Dublin in the third quarter of this year. Also, the Rathmines Women’s Refuge will re-open later this year.

The launch heard about the need to introduce “safe contact centres”, where children can be left for access visits to a parent in safety.

Solicitor Ursula Regan, who is chair of the Women’s Aid board of directors, said: “More often, given the level of domestic violence now, we see parents are choosing to use garda stations as a point for collection and delivery of children to and from access.”

Meanwhile, the report said that one in four women who made contact were experiencing abuse from a former partner or husband.

Irish Independent


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