Essential For All Women
Welcome to our Information page where you hope you will find some interesting material that we believe is very relevant to all women today. The useful information detailed here is based on some of the many courses we have undertaken as a group since our formation coupled with our experience helping women along the way and what we believe are some of the many issues facing women in Ireland today. We have also listed some important contact details which you might require in both emergencies or in your own time. You can use the 'Useful Contacts' button below to jump directly to our contacts listings section.
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Women, Harassment and Violence in Public Spaces.
By Sheila K. Martin, Secretary, PWCAS
Women have grown up knowing that they must beware of the potential threat of violence and that ‘they’ as women have a responsibility to ensure they are safe.
When I was young, going out at night with my sister, cousins and friends to a popular late night venue, my mother would be on the doorstep, anxiously giving instructions. She never said, ‘enjoy yourselves’ or ‘have fun’. Instead, she was issuing safety precautions, which we had to listen to every time we were heading out. “Stay together!” “Don’t get into a stranger’s car.” “Don’t walk home in the dark, get a taxi together.” “If you have no money, just get the taxi; I’ll go out and pay the driver.”
When I was much older, I was into running and thought nothing of going out alone to run my 10km on the roads at night. When visiting my parents for Christmas, I recall one night I was heading out in the dark for my run and my father insisted on following me on his bike. Like most women I was frequently given the message that the world was not a safe place for women and we should be careful.
The murder of Aisling Murphy has brought the safety of women in public places, into the spotlight. A quick review of sites that offer advice to women about their personal safety, reveals a range of tips. Women are advised to lock their car doors on quiet roads at night especially at traffic lights. If walking at night, they are advised not to walk alone or take short cuts through deserted parks, to be aware of surroundings, to avoid unlit streets, not to wear headphones. Women are advised to make sure their phone is charged before they venture out, to tell someone where they are going. If they are meeting someone for the first time, they are advised to do so in a public place.
There are organisations in the UK, USA and India, for women who go running, who travel alone, and who live in a society where sexual attacks on women are commonplace (respectively). These organisations strongly recommend learning self defence techniques and they even organise and deliver this training. In the US, it common for women to carry mace (pepper spray).
There is nothing wrong with being aware that ‘we’ are our first responder if we are in difficulty or in a life threatening situation. No doubt self defence techniques would be invaluable.
However, it should not be the responsibility of young girls and women to make sure they are safe. Society should provide safety. Society and all of its structures, law enforcement agencies, judiciary system, government bodies, legislation, schools, colleges, workplaces, the media, all have a major responsibility in shaping the culture of our society. Societal values, morals, attitudes and behaviours stem from these institutions as much today as they did when the Catholic church locked fallen women into Magdelene laundries.
Every agency, sector and structure has a duty to promote and uphold gender equality and to show zero tolerance for any actions that degrade, insult, threaten or harm women.
Clearly the current structures and attitudes are failing women. The lens through which key decision makers, law makers and indeed town planners look is gender biased. We need a review of the delicate nuances in our society that allow women to be degraded, humiliated, harassed, touched, attacked, raped and murdered.
The Government have announced that a Strategy to tackle violence against women will be published this March 2022. There is much to be reviewed because clearly there is a toxicity, a bias, an ignorance, that forms an impenetrable barrier to gender equality in our society.
Ireland has the highest level of claimed sexual harassment in Europe according to a WIN World Survey (2019) ranking 40 countries on gender equality, sexual harassment and violence. 32% of Irish women between the ages of 18 and 34 said they had experienced some form of sexual harassment in the last 12 months. Of all the 40 countries surveyed, Mexico ranked first, followed by Ireland.
The same survey revealed that only 17% of Irish people believe that social attitudes and behaviours treat men and women equally.
We have come a long way since the 19th Century thanks to our female predecessors but we still have a lot of work to do on the very fabric of our society. It is within this fabric that we live, work, interact, forge friendships, relationships and rear children. How we relate to each other is shaped by the values that are interwoven into this fabric. We need to unravel, redesign and rebuild much of this fabric to provide the foundation for a safe society, based on gender equality and a complete absence of misogyny.
Women have flown in space, been elected to senior Government positions, including that of prime minister and led the EU. Women have entered the top professions, won gold medals in the Olympics, owned newspapers and TV channels, had senior positions in the military, the police force and judicial system. Women have trekked to the North and South poles and won the Nobel Peace prize. Women have been CEO of large corporations and made invaluable contributions to science including the development of the mRNA vaccine for Covid 19.
Yet, here we are, shaken and outraged that a young woman, in day light has been murdered whilst running along a canal bank.
The United Nations, defines violence against women as “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.
If you are the victim of domestic abuse, please call Women’s Aid 24-hr Freephone Helpline on 1800 341 900 or dial 999 if it’s an emergency situation. If you are worried for your safety please attend any Garda station where members are now highly trained in supporting women and spotting the subtle elements of coercive control. Heretofore coercive control as form of abuse was largely unrecognised in the community and women suffered in silence.
Thankfully due to the bravery of some survivors of this form of abuse coercive control is now recognised as an actual offense and carries a prison sentence. Coercive control can affect the daily lives of women from all different socio-economic backgrounds and ethnic groupings. To other people that meet them they may seem to have the perfect life.
Sometimes It is only when women have an opportunity to step outside of the relationship that they begin to realise the destructive pattern that they are in. As women we have a responsibility to educate ourselves and be alert to the subtle signs of this horrific intimate partner abuse.
At the Phoenix Womens centre we are continuing to educate ourselves and to work with other agencies to pool our knowledge and collaborate to ensure that the women of Kerry are supported to rid themselves of this scourge that can have a devastating and long -term impact on them .
Become involved in the centre, avail of the wonderful workshops that are available which will educate ,inspire empower and allow you achieve agency over your own life. Abuse thrives when women are isolated, connect and if you are having issues we will get you the help you need.
By Rita O Sullivan (Phoenix Women's Centre & SHED)
What is Coercive Control?
Coercive control is a criminal offence which occurs when a current or ex-partner knowingly and persistently engages in behavior that is controlling or intimidating and a reasonable person would consider it likely to have a serious effect on the person. The victim may fear that violence will be used against them, or they may be suffering serious alarm or distress that has a substantial impact on their day-to-day activities.
The victim of coercive control may have their freedom of movement reduced. Every aspect of their life may be controlled by their current or ex-partner, including access to their personal finances and the freedom to see family and friends.
Coercive control is the collection of small, seemingly minor incidents or details that in isolation are not a criminal offence, but when viewed together display a web of abuse that is insidiously and forcibly eroding a person’s quality of life.
Coercive control can affect the daily lives of women from all socio-economic backgrounds and ethnicities. To other people who meet them they may appear to have the perfect life.
Sometimes it is only when women have an opportunity to step outside the relationship that they begin to realise, the destructive nature of the abuse they are experiencing. As a society we need to be alert to the subtle signs of potential abuse. At the Phoenix Womens Centre we are continuing to educate ourselves and work with other agencies and pool our knowledge to ensure that the women of Kerry are supported to rid themselves of the scourge of intimate partner abuse.
Become a member of our Centre and take part in the workshops that are available, which will educate, inspire, empower and allow you achieve agency over your own life. Abuse thrives when women are isolated. Connect with us and if you are having issues, we can signpost you to the help you need. Together we are stronger!
Is it an offence in Irish legislation?
The offence of Coercive Control is a specific offence in Irish legislation, as per section 39 Domestic Violence Act 2018, and came into effect on the 1st of January 2019.
In an emergency situation victims are urged to contact 999. Otherwise contact can be made with your local Garda Station or the Garda Victim Service Office (GVSO) to find out further information on the Criminal Justice Process and report the incident.
In due course and at an agreed time and place, the victim will be invited to make a statement of complaint to Gardai. Gardai will then gather evidence, if available, and may take statements from others to progress the investigation, as is required, by the Irish Criminal Justice Process.
An arrest of the suspected offender may take place if there are reasonable grounds for doing so.
A file will be submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and his direction will be sought as to whether a charge will or will not be brought against the suspected offender.
An Garda Siochana has a clear mission statement, to “Keep People Safe” and we are fully committed to this.
We aim to deliver a consistently high level of service to every victim of crime by providing a respectful, reassuring, responsive and reliable service, addressing the needs and expectations of all victims in a non-discriminatory manner.
Garda Victim Service Office (GVSO) - 066 7163303, Monday to Friday 9am-5pm
Garda Website – www.garda.ie
Bright Sky Ireland App
Adapt – Kerry Women’s Refuge and Support Service – 066 7129100 – email@example.com
Crime Victims Helpline – Freephone 116006 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Womens Aid – Freephone 1800 341 900 – email@example.com
Domestic Violence Orders are granted on application by a Judge of the District Court.
For further information contact:
Tralee Court Office – CenterPoint, John Joes Sheehy Road, Tralee Co Kerry - 066 7178700 –firstname.lastname@example.org
In an emergency please ring 999.
By Fidelma O Leary (Garda - Castleisland)
Together We Are Stronger
Here we have gathered together many contact details which we believe are critical for women who might find themselves in difficult situations. Phoenix Women's Centre & SHED recommend all these resources and are quite happy to initiate contact on your behalf. If you are in need of these services please reach out, if not to them or us please speak to someone close you trust.