DUP Alderman Sharon McKillop has welcomed the support a motion received at Causeway Coast & Glens full council meeting, calling for the Northern Ireland Assembley to initiate a Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy.
Speaking about the “urgent need for action”, Alderman McKillop said; “A strategy is needed to safeguard the women of Northern Ireland from serious violent crimes and ensure their basic human right to feel safe and secure in their own home and on their streets. This must be a priority for all living in Northern Ireland, including men.”
“Women’s Aid say domestic abuse and gender-based violence disproportionately affect women and girls, however, in Northern Ireland there is nothing in place to address this,” she added.
“The deaths of two women and a man in an apparent murder-suicide in Newtownabbey is yet another stark reminder of this dire situation. There is an urgent need for action and this motion will formulate a cohesive approach to addressing this unacceptable inequality.”
The Causeway DEA councillor continued: “Women don’t fear men, they fear evil. Some fear for their life, live in fear of a random attack or in fear of continuous violence, control and dominance. Femicide in Northern Ireland must be addressed.
“Unfortunately perpetrators of horrific crimes against women know no boundaries. Women and girls living in Northern Ireland have been victims of violence, murdered by men from the Republic of Ireland jurisdiction. In fact, crossing the border proved useful in the past for some – it assisted with not only concealing their heinous crime but avoiding prosecution.”
The motion also called on the Northern Ireland Assembly to form a task force to develop a publicity campaign promoting safety apps for women and girls, engaging with the PSNI, Women’s Aid and Soroptimist International Great Britain and Ireland.
Ald McKillop said: “This motion gives recommendations for actions which will work towards safeguarding and protecting women and girls living in this part of the UK – our daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts and girlfriends.
“Not all men are perpetrators of violent crimes against women and girls. This work will not discount the valid experiences of other gender identities and men need to be part of tackling the issue. I’d also like to see healthy relationships built between men and women as part of the strategy.
“We don’t want a strategy for women by women, men should also be involved in the process of ending violence against women and girls because the majority of men support this. In fact recently a young man raised this point with me when there was a suggestion that a curfew in England should be imposed on men.
“We should leave no stone unturned to ensure the issues of violence against women and girls is addressed.”