Guest blog from Amanda Kelly, Co-ordinator of Laois branch of Amnesty International

 

My name is Amanda Kelly and I am the Co-Ordinator of the Laois branch of Amnesty International. We are supporting Women’s Aid ’16 Days’ campaign. We are part of two events taking place during the 16 days.

On November 30th, Amnesty Ireland’s Executive Director, Colm O’Gorman came to Portlaoise to address Laois County Councillors at their monthly Council Meeting. He asked them to support the call for a Women’s Refuge in the County. The idea was warmly welcomed by the County Councillors. A motion was then passed at that meeting that Laois County Council would advocate the provision of a Women’s Refuge in the county, enabling victims of domestic violence to seek shelter within their own county.  The County Manager is requested to engage with the H.S.E. to pursue the matter.

Yesterday, December 8th saw Laois Amnesty support Laois Support Services for Domestic Violence’s “March of Hope”. The event will started at 3.45 p.m., convening at the Garda Station in Portlaoise and proceeding to the Courthouse. At 4 o’clock, a minute’s silence was observed for the 159 women who died as a result of violence in Ireland since 1996. 159 balloons were released to mark each of their lives. Candles and “Stop Violence Against Women” banners were also carried at the event. I’m glad to say that our event was very well attended. Laois Support Services for Domestic Abuse are an essential and vital element in supporting and assisting victims of domestic abuse in County Laois.    

Continued good wishes with the wonderful work you do. Through your website, you provide groups such as ours, the benefit of your knowledge and statistics, which we can use to raise awareness of your organisation at any ‘Stop Violence Against Women’ event we run locally throughout the year.

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Senator Ivana Bacik calls for debate on Domestic Violence and Rape Law.

Speaking in the Seanad yesterday, Senator Ivana Bacik called for an urgent debate on domestic violence and rape law, saying:

“As we near the end of the Women’s Aid ‘16 Days’ campaign highlighting the incidence of domestic violence, I think we need an urgent debate in this House to discuss the inadequacies in our legislation for protections for victims of domestic violence. We also need to discuss how best to prevent the incidence of such violence.”

Commending the Rape Crisis Network of Ireland for their conference on rape law held Monday 7th December, Senator Bacik said:

“The study launched yesterday and carried out by Conor Hanly and his team from NUI Galway has made the shocking finding that only one third of rape cases reported to the Gardai lead to the taking of criminal prosecutions by the DPP. The study also found that a narrow stereotype of rape victims may be a factor in the low numbers of rape cases proceeding to trial. We need to look at our rape laws, and our prosecution and trial processes generally, to see how to ensure that more complaints of rape are prosecuted within the criminal justice system.”

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Angela O’Neill De Guilio , Regional Director, Concern Worldwide, supports the 16 Days Campaign

 

“Concern Worldwide would like to congratulate Women’s Aid for your annual campaign to raise awareness of the reality of domestic violence and to push for positive change to make women safer in their own homes.  

Violence against women is all pervasive yet very much under recognized as a human rights violation.  In our work internationally, it is a problem of extreme magnitude.  We see that the nature and extend of violence can vary across cultures and countries.  Forms of violence include female genital mutilation, honour killings, acid throwing and dowry killings to name but a few.  Some forms of violence such as domestic violence and rape are endemic across cultures and social strata but violence also has close links with poverty.

For millions of women and girls living in poverty experiencing violence is their reality as they struggle to survive, there are often forced into transactional sex in order to pay for food or school fees, This increases their vulnerability to HIV and other health related problems.

A study conducted by Concern in Malawi found a significant level of violence against girls in school. Violence against young girls attending school is an enormous issue in developing countries. It is not surprising that parents keep their children at home, depriving them of an education because of the fear of violence, that may take place in school or on the way to and from school.

WHO estimates that globally 150 million girls have been raped and suffered other forms of sexual violence. We know that conflict exacerbates the situation further with rape a significant feature of conflicts.  

Concern’s experience informs us that we cannot address poverty without addressing the underlying causes of gender inequality, which is undoubtedly at the root cause of violence against women.  Concern is working with women’s self help groups, which may have an initial focus on economic empowerment leading women to increasing access to resources and decision making in their household whilst also positively impacting on the self esteem and status . The approach requires that the men of the household are engaged with the project.  Engaging men is considered an essential ingredient to bringing about lasting change. 

It is essential that a commitment to ending violence against women exists at all levels from government to institutions at community and family level.   Women and girls need to be empowered to stand up and report violence but a supportive and enabling environment where men are actively engaged and support real change must also exist for action to be taken and change to take place.

The 16 Days of Action is an opportunity to create awareness and renew our commitment to ending violence against women and girls.  Many of Concern’s country teams are carrying out activities and events over the 16 Days.   All our equality champions in our 28 countries of operation will receive the 16 facts for 16 days. Our website will feature the campaign and provide updates from our country programmes; briefing sessions will be held with our staff to create awareness and learn from experiences in other countries.

We are delighted to join with you in this campaign to end violence against women.”

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Day 15 of the Campaign

As the 16 Days Campaign draws to a close, there are still plenty of interesting events taking place:

Women’s Aid Events:

  • 16 Facts for 16 Days email campaign (email 16days@womensaid.ie or phone 01-8684721 to sign up)
  • 16 Books for 16 Days in Chapters
  • Women’s Aid Public Awareness Campaign
  • Women’s Aid Online Advertising Campaign
  • Women’s Aid ‘Support a Friend’ Phone Charm Campaign

Events Around Ireland:

  • Violence Against Women 365 International Poster Exhibition continues in Waterford
  • Displays at various venues around Mayo
  • Human Rights in Ireland continue their 16 Days Campaign daily blog
  • “In Her Shoes” exhibition in Longford, and also in the Mid-West
  • Information Stands are placed around Sligo and Leitrim
  • Aoibhneas Refuge urges all of us to “Step Out of the Shadows”
  • Clare Women’s Network is running a powerful daily poster campaign
  • Galway Rape Crisis Network is running a daily fact campaign
  • Donegal has a poetry and art display

Cyber Events:

  • Take Back the Tech continue their fabulous campaign with daily actions that are available to everyone! (www.takebackthetech.net)

International Events:

  • Kenya North Rift Women Voices training events in Kenya
  • FemLINKpacific Community Radio Broadcasts in the Figi Islands

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Domestic Violence Special Feature, Glow Magazine

GLOW, Ireland’s No.1 Health and Lifestyle Magazine have included an excellent four page special feature on domestic violence in the December/January edition, now in all good newsagents.

The article explores the impact of the recession on women living with domestic violence and steps to guard against financial abuse.  The article goes on to look at how we can help a friend who is experiencing domestic violence.

The article finished with an outline of how Women’s Aid can help women who are being abused as well as ways readers can support the 16 Days of Action Campaign.

Pick up your copy today.

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Guest Blog from “Take Back the Tech!”

Take Back The Tech! is a collaborative campaign that takes place during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence (25 Nov – 10 Dec). It is a call to everyone – especially women and girls – to take control of technology to end violence against women.

Build the campaign with your thoughts, ideas, words and imagination. Create and share digital postcards. Find out more about the reality of violence against women by watching digital stories. Blog with us. Upload and share video and audio clips. Create your own Take Back The Tech! campaign.

We are past the half-way point of the Take Back The Tech! 16 days of activism campaign, and hope that you’ve managed to find some time to do a couple of the daily actions, or to tweet about them and help pass the word.

We’ve had some amazing TBTT campaigns taking place in many parts of the world. Here’s a quick glimpse into just some of them:

* In Brazil, G2G are organising their fourth TBTT campaign with local actions in the cities of Cachoeira (Bahia state), Campinas, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, feminist solidarity blogging, translating materials, and lots of collaborative action over ICT platforms.

* In Congo, campaigners are organising talks, discussions and workshops on VAW and ICT, blogging and twittering, and staging a play in schools about the issue.

* OneWorld South East Europe is creating lots of different types of creative content including digital stories and online books to generate knowledge, awareness and a buzz around the issue.

* In Pakistan, 16 local actions are being organised throughout the campaign period, including non-stop twittering and collaborative composition of a song against violence.

* And on Second Life, campaigners are staging protests, engaging in panel discussions and organising exhibitions.

Today is another fantastic day to take action 🙂

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Today’s Action: Vote against violence | Say it with symbols

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Signs and symbols communicate ideas in powerful ways. They are critical elements of movement building, acting as quick and identifiable signifiers of a common vision and set of principles. When you see the icon of a woman symbol with a fist in the middle, it is immediately understood as feminist. When you put it on a t-shirt or spray it on your bag and wear it, you are claiming the identity and standpoint.

Button badges are an effective vehicle for the communication of symbols, and have a long herstory in women’s movements. Attend any gathering, and chances are, you would have picked up a cool button badge or two that calls for support to an issue you believe in. The small size of the button badge means that strong ideas are condensed into a powerful symbol, icon or statement. Which is also why it works. You can wear it anytime and transform a space by catalysing a train of thought or conversation through the strength of its meaning.

Cast your vote to end violence against women today. Click here to “Say it with a button!”

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16 Books for 16 Days, Book 14: The Woman who walked into Doors

The Woman who walked into Doors by Roddy Doyle

A skillful mixture of buoyant farce and wrenching drama from the popular Irish author (The Commitments, 1987; Bookerwinner Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, 1993, etc.). Doyle’s protagonist and narrator, Paula Spencer, will remind readers of the hilariously feisty, foulmouthed women of his earlier books. Indeed, Paula’s a match for any of them as she recalls episodes from her experiences as competitive sibling and worldly- wise schoolgirl, moonstruck young wife, and, finally, embattled mother. And the core of her adult life is her terrified relationship with abusive husband Charlo, a charismatic monster whose unpredictable swings between tenderness and violence keep the hopeful Paula in a constant state of submissive confusion. (“He loved me and he beat me. I loved him and I took it. It’s as simple as that, and as stupid and complicated.”) Charlo’s uncontrollable thuggishness eventually removes him from her life for good, but that isn’t the end of her trouble. Doyle’s masterly use of jabbing, staccato sentences and emotional repetitions produces a nervous intensity that exactly reproduces how his heroine–and she is that, no other word will do–lives out her imperilled days. The novel is filled with sharply observed, amusingly distinctive characters, including even Paula’s young children. Hardly any other writer alive can create families and neighborhoods full of mutually involved people with such easy authority. And nobody alive uses filthy language with such exuberant expressive virtuosity. Only in the closing pages, when Doyle’s empathy with his character’s plight takes on some of the righteous quality of a case study, does the grip falter. Even so, few readers will be able to look away even for a moment. Some may object that Doyle, having perfected a winning formula, is merely writing the same raucous story of small-town Irish life over and over. Well, let them. It’s a bloody wonderful story. –Kirkus Reviews

Know this classic? Pick up the sequel, Paula Spencer.

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