Gender-based violence strategy broadly welcomed

Fórsa has broadly welcomed a new national strategy on domestic, gender and sexual based violence as a step in the right direction. The union has also called on the Government to introduce statutory paid leave for victims of domestic violence.

The new €363 million strategy claims a zero-tolerance approach to domestic, gender and sexual based violence, and includes tougher penalties for abusers and a much-needed doubling of refuge places.

Each of the nine counties that currently have no domestic violence refuge are to get one under the new plan.

The strategy also seeks to clearly identify children and young people as witnesses, victims and survivors. It says national support services for children as victims and survivors will be rolled out, alongside therapeutic counselling services and parenting supports.

Fórsa national secretary Ashley Connolly has commended the ambition and scope of the plan, but said that Government, societal and workplace efforts are essential to supporting victims.

“We welcome this plan, but we need to see it implemented. There is an urgent need for legislation to establish a statutory paid leave as part of a package of workplace measures to assist victims of domestic violence,” she said.

Last May, delegates at Fórsa’s national conference in Killarney unanimously backed a motion from the union’s national executive calling for statutory paid leave for victims of domestic violence.

Ashley stressed that victims of abuse should feel supported in their workplace and said that they should not face losing pay or employment because of domestic abuse. “Financial independence from their abuser is essential for women experiencing domestic abuse, and employment is a key element of financial independence,” she said.

Ashley commended employers already working with the union on the issue and once again called on Government and employers to work with trade unions “to develop clear policies and procedures to support victims of domestic abuse and gender-based violence.”

Read the national strategy HERE.