SDLP Foyle MLA Sinéad McLaughlin has urged women and girls to come forward and share their views on violence and domestic and sexual abuse.
Ms McLaughlin was speaking after a call for views was launched on two new strategies aimed at tackling domestic and sexual abuse and violence against women and girls.
The Executive Office Committee chair urged everyone, but particularly women and girls, to come forward and make their voices heard to inform Executive policy going forward.
Foyle MLA Ms McLaughlin said:
“While I welcome that the call for views had finally got underway for these two crucially important strategies, it is shameful that is has taken us so long to get to this stage. The failure to have a proper strategy for tackling domestic and sexual abuse and violence against women and girls is a damning indictment of the dysfunction that rules the Sinn Féin-DUP controlled Executive Office.
“We should never have had to wait this long, but now that we are finally making progress it’s important that as many people as possible respond to the call for views to ensure that these strategies are as comprehensive and robust as possible and no important issue is missed out. It is particularly key that we hear from women, girls and victims who know better than anyone the steps that must be taken to address these issues.
“It is crucially important that we get these strategies in place as soon as possible. A number of high-profile incidents across these islands have highlighted the need to tackle violence against women and girls and tragically we saw domestic abuse incidents reach an all-time high during the coronavirus pandemic as many people were trapped at home with their abusers. If we are truly going to tackle these issues then we need to get to the heart of and challenge the misogynistic attitudes that are sadly all too prevalent across our society.
“While we have come a long way in addressing these issues, the reality is that women are still murdered each year in domestic and non-domestic incidents and thousands of women across the North have suffered as a result of domestic abuse and violence. It is disgraceful that these incidents are still so common and these strategies must come up with a proper plan to address these issues, support victims and make the North a safer place for women and girls.”