LONDON (Bywire News) - According to a recent report by Byline Times, Northern Ireland has emerged as one of the most perilous places for women in Europe, with the region witnessing alarmingly high levels of gender-based violence and abuse.
A study from Ulster University reveals that a staggering 98% of women in Northern Ireland have suffered at least one form of violence or abuse in their lifetime. Moreover, 50% of these women have faced maltreatment before the age of 11, while seven out of ten have experienced some form of violence or abuse within the last 12 months.
Byline Times also cites the findings from the 2022 Northern Ireland Women's Policy Group report, which indicates that 91% of women feel that Northern Ireland has an issue with men perpetrating violence against women and girls. These alarming statistics place Northern Ireland ahead of most European countries in terms of femicide levels, lagging only behind Romania.
In the aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement that took place 25 years ago, it was hoped that societal changes and reforms would help tackle instances of gender-based violence. However, the lack of political and policy focus on women's safety, together with persistent paramilitary threats in disadvantaged areas, has contributed to a continuation of violence against women in the region.
Despite making up more than half of the population, women in Northern Ireland continue to be underrepresented in politics and policymaking. This has led to delays in creating and implementing essential strategies for dealing with violence against women and girls. The much-needed Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda aimed at addressing these issues has also been hindered by a lack of political urgency and commitment.
Furthermore, organizations like Women's Aid, which provide vital support and services for women experiencing violence in Northern Ireland, are grappling with significant funding cuts, thereby hampering their ability to help those in need.
With grim statistics highlighting the hidden war against women in Northern Ireland, it is crucial that government and society at large prioritize addressing these issues, creating a safer environment for women and fostering a truly peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable society.
(By Michael O'Sullivan)