16 minutes. 16 days. 16 actions. Unlock the Funding!

Every other month a woman in an abusive relationship is murdered – Women’s Aid Federation Northern Ireland demands immediate government action.

As a woman in an abusive relationship is murdered on average every other month in Northern Ireland, a charity has revealed a chronic lack of government funding has stretched its resources to breaking point.

Women’s Aid Federation Northern Ireland this week launches its most powerful and hard-hitting campaign calling on the government to ‘Unlock the Funding’ as shocking new statistics reveal the PSNI receives a call relating to a domestic abuse every 16 minutes.

Women and girls in Northern Ireland are disproportionately affected by violence, abuse and intimidation. According to police, from April 2021 to March 2022, they made up 78% of all victims of sexual crimes, 68% of domestic abuse, 64% of harassment and as of April 2022, 95% of stalking crimes.

Between 2017 and 2021 34 women and girls were killed by men across Northern Ireland.

Women’s Aid states the ‘chronic underfunding’ in Northern Ireland predates the collapse of Stormont however, the situation is being exasperated by the lack of a functioning Executive.

The charity continues to provide frontline support to victims of domestic or sexual violence and abuse but has warned that its resources are being stretched to the limit.

Women’s Aid Federation Northern Ireland Chief Executive, Sarah Mason said Northern Ireland was already significantly behind England and Wales when it came to funding, but the cost of living crisis is making this disparity even more stark.

Sarah said: “Our campaign uses incredibly emotive language and lays bare the shocking facts regarding a lack of funding for vital services.

“But the reality is that women are being murdered in Northern Ireland as we wait for the government to provide the necessary level of funding to tackle this epidemic affecting our society. Women’s Aid does not apologise for being a strong voice for women and we will continue to fight for the necessary resources”.

“The cost of living crisis is having a profound impact on women living with abusive partners. We saw during the pandemic how lockdown was often trapping women with their abusers now as the strain on household expenses continues to spiral, many female victims of violence simply don’t have the financial means to escape the abuse”.

“Time is running out for too many women and the clock is ticking.  This is a damning indictment on our society that so many women are paying the ultimate price.”

Despite England and Wales already being ahead of Northern Ireland for funding, the Domestic Abuse Commissioner, Nicole Jacobs said the cost of living crisis in those countries was rapidly becoming a ‘national emergency’ for domestic abuse victims.

The commissioner called upon Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt to create a National Emergency Fund which would be accessible to all victims across England and Wales.

Sarah added: “When you hear the Commissioner using language like this, you immediately understand just how critical the situation is in England and Wales. These countries were already ahead of Northern Ireland for funding.”

“Earlier this year in the Republic of Ireland, the government announced a €363m strategy to tackle gendered-based violence. Funding of this level has never been released here in Northern Ireland.

“A cornerstone of the strategy in Ireland is education and it will focus on issues such as consent, healthy sexual relationships and domestic violence. It will be covered in an age-appropriate manner from primary school through to third level education.”

“Another central pillar of the strategy is a 100 percent rise in the number of refuge places for victims.”

“In Northern Ireland, Women’s Aid already has a strategic roadmap in place which is similar in a number of areas. The main difference is we don’t have the funding to implement it on the same level.”

The Women’s Aid ‘Unlock the Funding’ campaign, which is coinciding with the annual international 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence (Nov 25 – Dec 10), combines a range of mediums including digital roadside advertising screens and a dedicated social media campaign.

Click the link below to read more about our 16 Days of Actions 2022

Download Publication 16 Days of Action X Women’s Aid
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