Rape Crisis Network Ireland calls for an independent authority on Domestic, Sexual and Gender based violence
On Monday January 30 2023 Rape Crisis Network Ireland contributed to a meeting with GREVIO to inform their examination of Ireland’s response to combatting Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence (DSGBV). RCNI highlighted in particular the concern that there are still no plans to put in place independent monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.
GREVIO is the international independent expert body responsible for monitoring the implementation of the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention (IC). This is the first and crucial opportunity for NGOs to report directly to GREVIO representatives on what they have observed that the Irish State has done, is doing and will need to do in the future to respond effectively to rising levels of DSGBV.
Fundamental to the State response to DSGBV is Zero Tolerance, the Government’s Third National Domestic and Gender-based Violence Strategy’ published in 2022. RCNI is concerned that this strategy does not include provision for independent monitoring. We call on GREVIO to assess the need to establish such a role, like an Ombudsman for DSGBV. This post would independently monitor and scrutinise the coordination and implementation of policy and practice. It would be given powers and independence in legislation so that it can do this work without fear or interference and it would be survivor-centred and transparent. Currently external evaluation rests with frontline NGOs who are seeking to hold accountable the very bodies they rely on for funding and their continued existence.
Said RCNI Executive Director, Clíona Saidléar:
‘The State has failed thus far to initiate, resource and place on a statutory footing a mechanism for independently monitoring and evaluating the implementation of policies to prevent and combat violence against women. The Istanbul Convention not only requires the securing of a coordination body such as is being devised right now, but also effective monitoring and evaluation. We have learnt many times over in Ireland, particularly around sexual violence, that leaving authorities to police themselves is bad practice. We cannot begin this new page in addressing sexual violence by replicating old and failed practices. This would be a lost opportunity in this government’s determination to transform our response to DSGBV – and for RCNI we fear a fatal flaw.’
Other recommendations include:
- Overhaul of funding: So far, the Irish State has wholly failed to put in place adequate, nationally planned, equitable and transparent funding to respond to sexual violence up to and including 2023 allocation mechanisms and additional funding under the new strategy.
- A dedicated strategy for the collection of DSGBV administrative data. The achieving of gold standard data collection has been a high-level goal in all national strategies to date and this has not been achieved.
- The development of a training strategy and curricula for mandatory initial and in-service training for all relevant professionals stipulated by GREVIO, to include the digital and gendered dimensions of sexual violence. The Convention requires these to be developed with sexual and domestic violence specialists.
- Improving access to justice, including the implementation of policies and provision of resources to prioritise, fast track and case manage cases involving any form of violence against women, including attempted violence, psychological and cyber violence.
- The removal of the Irish state’s reservation on compensation. It is a mark of shame for Ireland that we continue to exempt ourselves from offering this mark of dignity and acknowledgement to survivors as recognised under the Convention. Adequate State compensation must be awarded, proactively, to those who have sustained serious bodily injury or impairment of health, especially when perpetrated by State Actors.
- RCNI and Safe Ireland’s specialist DSGBV Shadow Report to GREVIO is available here.
- GREVIO: the Group of Experts on Action Against Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence. GREVIO comprises between 10 and 15 members, depending on the number of Parties to the Convention, and takes into account a gender and geographical balance, as well as multidisciplinary expertise in the area of human rights, gender equality, violence against women and domestic violence or in the assistance to and protection of victims.
- The Istanbul Convention also known as Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence
- Rape Crisis Network Ireland is a specialist policy agency on sexual violence, founded, owned and governed by our member Rape Crisis Centres. We have been serving survivors’ interests and working towards the prevention of all forms of sexual violence since 1985.
- RCNI builds and sustains considerable expertise to identify, make the case for, and implement priorities for a whole-of society and Government response to sexual violence.
- Article 10 of the Istanbul Convention Co-ordinating body (1) Parties shall designate or establish one or more official bodies responsible for the co-ordination, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and measures to prevent and combat all forms of violence covered by this Convention. These bodies shall co‐ordinate the collection of data as referred to in Article11, analyse and disseminate its results. (2) Parties shall ensure that the bodies designated or established pursuant to this article receive information of a general nature on measures taken pursuant to Chapter VIII.