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Urgent Need to Address Violence Against Women and Girls in Northern Ireland

Murder of Kathryn Parton – Urgent Need to Address Violence Against Women and Girls in Northern Ireland

In the wake of the recent tragic murder of Kathryn (34)  in East Belfast, our community is once again confronted with the grim reality of violence against women and girls. This heartbreaking incident underscores the urgent need for comprehensive action to address domestic abuse and coercive control in Northern Ireland.

Kathryn, a keen dancer, was formerly from Comber in Ards and North Down.  We send our deepest sympathy to  Kathryn’s friends and family who have suffered this unbearable loss.

The Stark Reality

Since 2020, 19 women have been murdered by an intimate or former partner in Northern Ireland. These statistics are not just numbers; they represent lives cut short, families shattered, and communities in mourning. Each of these women had hopes, dreams, and loved ones who are now left to navigate the aftermath of such senseless violence.

The Need for Early Intervention

Early intervention is crucial in preventing domestic abuse and coercive control from escalating into more severe forms of violence. Women’s Centres across NI offer support for women from all walks of life and provide advice and advocacy for those who find themselves where home is not a place of safety

KWC will continue to work with the local Police and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) in Ards & North Down to increase funding to programmes such as the One Stop Shop initiative and for more information roadshows and wellbeing for women events such as the joint roadshow promoted by KWC and the South Eastern Domestic Violence Partnership where we brought together key stakeholders to provide a range of wellbeing support initiatives for vulnerable women. 

Here’s why early intervention support is essential:

  1. Prevention of Escalation: By identifying and addressing abusive behaviours early, we can prevent situations from worsening. Early intervention can save lives by stopping violence before it becomes lethal.

  2. Support and Empowerment: Providing victims with immediate support services, including counselling or a listening ear, access to legal assistance and advice, and safe housing or refuge, can empower them to leave abusive relationships and rebuild their lives.

  3. Education and Awareness: Educating communities about the signs of domestic abuse and coercive control is vital. Awareness campaigns can help bystanders recognise and act when they see signs of abuse.

  4. Resources for Perpetrators: Offering resources and rehabilitation programs for abusers can address the root causes of their behaviour, reducing the likelihood of reoffending.

KWC Call to Action

Addressing violence against women and girls requires a multifaceted approach, and KWC is at the forefront as part of the South Eastern Domestic Violence Partnership:

  • Stronger Legislation: Implementing and enforcing stricter laws against domestic abuse and coercive control is essential. This includes recognising coercive control as a serious criminal offense.

  • Increased Funding: More funding is needed for support services such as refuges, hotlines, and women’s support services that provide crucial assistance to victims or those living in homes which are not always places of safety. It is unacceptable that Northern Ireland is the only place in the UK where Women’s Aid is not in receipt of Core Funding, and we call on the Department of Health to revisit the allocation of the core funding scheme.

  • Comprehensive Education: Schools and community organisations should provide education on healthy relationships, consent, and the signs of abuse.

  • Community Involvement: Communities must be proactive in supporting victims and holding abusers accountable. This includes creating safe spaces for women to seek help and report abuse without fear of stigma or retaliation.

Standing Together

The murder of this young woman in East Belfast is a stark reminder of the pervasive and deadly nature of violence against women. We must stand together as a community to demand change, support survivors, and work tirelessly to prevent further tragedies. Every woman and girl has the right to live free from fear and violence, and it is our collective responsibility to ensure their safety and well-being.

Let us honour the memory of all the victims by committing to action and advocating for a safer, more just society for women in the region.