Almost 98% of women surveyed for the report, ‘Every Voice Matters!’ Violence Against Women in Northern Ireland’ led by Ulster University, experienced at least one form of violence or abuse in their lifetime. The report also reveals that 7 out of 10 of those surveyed had experienced some form of violence or abuse in the last 12 months.
A second report, ‘It’s Just What Happens’: Girls’ and Young Women’s Views and Experiences of Violence in Northern Ireland’ was led by Queen’s University Belfast. It found that 73% of girls aged 12-17 reported having experienced at least one form of violence in their lifetime.
The North Down MLA said: “These reports provide a critical insight into the violence, harm and abuse women and girls are facing every day throughout our society in deeply alarming numbers.
“The normalised nature of ‘everyday violence’ demonstrated in some of the report’s findings makes it clear how imperative it is we improve Relationship and Sex Education for our young people as a preventative measure. This will go a significant way in promoting healthy and positive relationships, alongside age appropriate discussions regarding violence against women and girls.
“These reports have found that girls are worried they might not be believed if they came forward, worried it might make the situation worse, and worried that what they experienced was not serious enough to report. It is clear that we need a societal shift in attitudes both in terms of preventative education and intervention, and support to ensure women and girls who have experienced violence feel supported and heard.
“The Strategic Framework to End Violence Against Women and Girls is currently out to consultation. I would encourage as many people as possible to respond to this consultation to help shape the next steps the Executive Office take in order to tackle this issue head on.
“It is so important that this Framework is fit for purpose and delivers the intervention and outcomes we so desperately need.”