On June 28 Minister Helen McEntee launched the new Third Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender Based Violence (DSGBV) which sets forth policy and the measures to be taken over the next five years.
The Second Strategy was subject to scathing criticism by the Review group.
Learning from mistakes is not a virtue of the Department of Justice. In April 2021 the Minister set up a 3-person Executive Group to draft the new strategy. It consisted of one person each from Safe Ireland, the NWCI and the Department. How such a group could possibly be impartial is beyond belief so it can only be assumed that the Minister choose to sell out to the radical feminists completely. This is borne out by the measures that follow. The Strategy gives no putative figures for the breakdown of DSGBV into different strands or the total amount perpetrated by men and by women.
Since it has no baseline to refer to how will it know that it can ensure significant and ongoing reduction in incidence of DSGBV as it says it will?
How cosy this was. Grainne Healy (awarded outstanding feminist 2017 by NWCI) and Monica O’ Connor (a Social Justice activist ) are long associated with the radical feminist perspective on DV and much else so this was anything but impartial. They were supposedly selected following a competitive tender process. Really?
This executive and consultants met at least fortnightly as a team working to develop the third Strategy.
How isolated the Justice representative must have felt in this company!
Features of the Strategy
We are told that a theory of change approach infuses the document: This approach means that the end goal for the overall strategy – that of zero tolerance in Irish society of DSGBV – remained central throughout the development of all aspects of the strategy and action plan. The Strategy recognises that while both men and women can be victims/survivors, women and girls are affected disproportionately, as a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women. As a result, the emphasis within the Strategy is particularly on meeting the needs of women and girls.
There is the standard nod towards male victims but no nonsense about equal treatment. The second last sentence is taken directly from the Istanbul Convention. Indeed the heavy hand of the Convention is apparent throughout.
True to form the hard-line zero tolerance approach is emphasised by this key action: Reforming the criminal law, including increasing the maximum sentence for assault causing harm from 5 years to ten years. Did they consult a criminologist on this?
Do they recognise that 50%+of DV is bidirectional as the best studies reveal?
All statutory and non-statutory partners involved in the development of this Strategy have a shared understanding of the need to embed a model of co-design and co-production in agreeing and delivering all of the actions.
Is Men’s Aid a non-statutory partner? It wasn’t consulted here.
If the Department was serious about understanding the root causes, they would have consulted a range of impartial experts
The third Strategy will deliver an enhanced understanding of the root causes and impacts of DSGBV across society…
But according to the above the causes are a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women so they are already known!
If the Department was serious about understanding the root causes, they would have consulted a range of impartial experts and would have given these a substantial voice in the Executive Group which drew up the strategy.
High Level Goals
A key decision is the establishment of a new statutory DSGBV agency with responsibility for the funding and commissioning of all DSGBV services under the remit of the Department of Justice.
Assuming this means the replacement of the current plethora of agencies providing funding for DV services by a single agency this will make for much needed transparency; it has the potential to improve matters if there is a new start but only if those in Tusla who managed it previously are excluded. Given the group composition, this is not likely to happen.
Another major decision is to double the number of refuge spaces; but these will be for women only. There are no plans for refuges for men. Both this goal and the failure to mention funding for male services are informed by Articles 8 and 9 of the Istanbul Convention.
National sexual violence and national domestic violence prevalence studies to be conducted alternately at five-year intervals
This is fine but who will organise the studies, draw up the survey teams? If it is the Executive Group then it is meaningless.
Overhaul of the relationships and sexuality education curriculum
Article 14 of the Istanbul Convention is evident here.
As an example of the mangled, circular thinking that pervades feminist ideology compare the following two definitions which appear:
Gender-based violence (CEDAW)
‘Violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately’ (Article 6). CEDAW recognise it as ‘a form of discrimination that seriously inhibits women’s ability to enjoy rights and freedoms on a basis of equality with men’ (Article 1).
‘Violence against women’ means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.’
Some Questions: Is lesbian violence gender-based? Can examples be given of violence against women which are not gender-based? How do you distinguish a violent act committed against a woman which is not because she is a woman? There are no answers.
In Section 4 we find that there were One-to-one interviews with academics and individuals with specialist expertise in the area. Who were these experts? We are not told. Was Men’s Aid involved at all?
The Implementation Plan is here. In relation to implementation there is further unwelcome news for men and boys who are mentioned in no less than three initiatives which leave no doubt about who the scapegoats are here.
1.1.1 The messaging will be focused on:
Encouraging men and boys to contribute to actively preventing all forms of violence
1.1.6 Support campaigns (e.g., the White Ribbon campaign) and other initiatives designed to engage men and boys in ending gender-based violence
1.1.8 Prioritise the development of effective approaches to engaging men and boys in tackling gender based violence and changing male behaviour which supports a zero-tolerance attitude to violence against women.
Again Articles 14 and 18 of the Convention are evident here.
On reflection the choice of the Executive Group becomes clearer when we recall that the document is based on the four pillars of the Istanbul Convention. It follows that there must not be any questioning of the Convention, a possibility which might arise if the selection of the group was broad.
Engaging men and boys and changing male behaviour to tackle violence against women will be a priority
Great pains are to be taken to ensure the strategy is successfully implemented. There will be a High-Level Oversight Board chaired by the Secretaries General to the Departments of the Taoiseach and Justice, with a secretariat in the Department of the Taoiseach, to ensure regular and intensive monitoring of progress towards the agreed goals of the Strategy. Further oversight of this whole-of-Government priority will be provided by the Cabinet Committee on Social Affairs and Equality chaired by the Taoiseach.