Third National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence

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Istanbul Convention is an obstacle toward resolving domestic violence

The Audit of Services and Review of the Second Strategy

In the second half of February 2022 the Department of Justice opened a further Public Consultation on the Third National Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence (DSGBV) Strategy which can be accessed here.

The consultation will be open until close of business on Thursday 10th March 2022.

Several things are happening with regard to DSGBV in the last while. As reported here a while back an internal audit of the services, the funding, the coordination (or lack of it) in this sector was completed last July and concluded that services were too disparate, too diffused among several departments  and that these strands needed to be brought together under a single department which would be responsible for the whole. That department is to be the Department of Justice. A new statutory body needs to be set up and this is awaited.

Separately, the existing Second National Strategy on DSGBV is nearing its end date and has to be replaced by a new Third Strategy. The review of the Second Strategy, to which Men’s Voices contributed, was scathing.

As a newspaper article had it: an eye-opening audit revealed a culture of “distrust, disrespect, othering and blaming” among people working in sectors that deal with domestic, sexual and gender-based violence.

The consultants who carried out last year’s audit were told “by most people” that the strategy was “cobbled together”, that the document was “all over the place” and “impossible to follow”, and that reporting and monitoring were “ad hoc” and “had ground to a halt”. And significantly there were difficulties in relationships between Tusla and NGOs.

The strategy was “cobbled together”, was “all over the place” and “impossible to follow”, and monitoring “had ground to a halt”

But there is to be new resolve and we can all look forward to a much better future?

Not quite. In fact the problems are already surfacing before this consultation has even been completed and the vaunted strategy has even been unveiled. The state can get nothing right in this sensitive area and it will  continue to get things wrong as long as it refuses to look honestly at the nature of domestic violence rather than the ideology which bedevils it, and  as long as it relies on the NWC and Safe Ireland for direction. If we consult  the  draft of the new strategy we find:

“A key element of the process of the third strategy development was the establishment of an Executive Group (made up of a representative of the Department of Justice, The National Women’s Council of Ireland, and Safe Ireland respectively)”. This key group met at least every fortnight since April 2021.

“Women and girls are affected disproportionately, as a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women. As a result, there is an emphasis within the strategy on meeting the needs of women and girls.”

The finger is pointed directly at men here. The phrase “that DSGBV is an expression of historically unequal power relations” is taken directly from the Preamble of the Istanbul Convention, the underlying ideology of which informs departmental thinking.

The new Strategy is structured around the four pillars or goals of the Istanbul Convention which are  Prevention,  Protection,  Prosecution and Co-ordinated Policies.

Beyond that there will be a chain of accountability to the Taoiseach’s office and to a Cabinet subcommittee.

Strategy is Based on the Istanbul Convention

Protester in Armenia

Anybody even vaguely familiar with the Istanbul Convention will know that it is entirely based on radical feminist ideology, that it has been so thoroughly discredited  by overwhelming international evidence that nobody dares to raise it in public debate lest they be forced to defend the indefensible, which is why it has never once been the subject of even a cursory scrutiny on a public platform, media debate or even radio interview. And yet here we are and it is to inform this doomed third strategy.

The fault for this appalling debacle has to be laid firmly at the door of the Department of Justice and more specifically the Minister Helen McEntee. The choice of  the Executive Group was surely hers, and after that it was a foregone conclusion what the outcome would be. To select an executive consisting of just three people, two of whom are radical feminists, and omit entirely any external expert on domestic violence, let alone a representative of a male support group speaks volumes. Furthermore the NWC has no expertise on domestic violence, rather it is increasingly known for its extreme views on a range of issues.

The fault for this appalling debacle has to be laid firmly at the door of the Department of Justice and more specifically the Minister Helen McEntee

That this is not just speculation can be seen from this opinion piece from Jan 16 in which McEntee sets out her thinking:

“To prevent abuse of women, it is crucial we eradicate the social and cultural attitudes — yes, among men — that can contribute to women feeling unsafe. That means appropriate education from primary school up on healthy relationships, gender equality and consent”.

Services for men are not mentioned

It is crucial to understand that this piece was written just after the appalling murder of Ashling Murphy which had nothing to do with domestic violence but was immediately seized upon by groups like Safe Ireland as if it did and facilitated by the media.

The focus is to be on women, services for men are not mentioned; the fact that there  are no refuges for male victims is ignored while more refuges are to be provided for female victims. The phrase “violence against women” appears repeatedly throughout.

Partner Abuse Vol 3 No. 2 2012

Domestic violence is overwhelmingly due to malevolence on the part of men.  Even the title of the Convention is revealing: Council of Europe Convention for preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence.

Violence against women is part of the general problem of violence in society just as violence against men is, which is in fact far more prevalent. Yet violence against men is simply a “criminal justice issue” according to the minister. It does not find a mention in the Convention and is never regarded as gender-based.

The latest consultation mentioned above is very narrowly drawn, allowing only very limited choice about priorities. For instance Q.4 asks who should the prevention campaign be aimed at and instances Men as one choice.

This strategy hit some rocks in the last week when a row broke out over the choice of speakers for the NWC rally outside Leinster House on March 5. The distinct sense has appeared for the first time that the NWC is out of step not only with the views of women (which it has ignored for decades) including a number of women politicians furious at their exclusion, but also with the views of the general population who see it as a privileged group of extremists who consider themselves answerable to no one. This was borne out In stark terms as the NWC simply refused to appear on a public forum to answer questions.