SPEAKING at Stormont, a Fermanagh MLA has called for “a zero tolerance approach” to dealing with gender-based violence and for the introduction of an education programme to raise awareness of the issue among young people.
Rosemary Barton MLA, a former teacher, was speaking after in the wake of the shock and grief and the murder or 23-year-old Tullamore teacher Ashling Murphy, and after it was revealed attacks on women and girls in the North had increased over the past two years.
Expressing her condolences with all those who have died as a result of gender-based violence, whether a result of domestic violence or random attacks, she noted that while some gender-based violence was directed against men, it was women who mostly suffered.
“This latest murder in broad day light in the Republic of Ireland has left both the people of Northern Ireland and the Republic stunned, with many women now fearing the consequences of walking home from work alone in the dark evenings, taking a leisurely stroll particularly in areas of limited lighting or even living on their own. No woman or girl should ever have to feel afraid,” Ms Barton said.
“Given the increase there has been on violent attacks on women over these past two years, whether it is a result of physical harm in a domestic setting or otherwise or sexual assault, these acts are abhorrent and must be condemned in the strongest terms.
“This violence is horrendous leaving many with lasting physical , mental , emotional and psychological problems.”
Ms Barton added: “I do however recognise that there is gender based violence towards men too, and this should be equally condemned, but many more women according suffer from violent attacks than men.
“Enough is enough all gender based form of attacks whether verbal or physical must be stopped and a zero tolerance approach adopted.
“Time now is of the essence, thought must be given to introducing an education framework for our young people in schools from 4 to 18 that will increase awareness of respect, examining attitudes, and tackle sexual, domestic and gender based violence in tandem with the Executive who are bringing forward a violence against women and girls strategy across wider society.”
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