Thursday, September 13, 2018

Feminicide across Europe: Ireland

1 Background  
The word femicide is rarely used in Ireland; intimate partner murder or homicide are more common terms in use.  
2 Sources 
Data on femicide in Ireland are (potentially) available from the following sources:  

a) Central Statistics Office - An Garda Síochána (Irish Police Force) crime statistics are collected via the PULSE (Police Using Leading Systems Effectively) system and are collated and published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) Crime and Justice section on a regular basis. Data from annual and quarterly homicide offences can be dis-aggregated by sex of victim. Currently (September 2016), homicide data cannot be dis-aggregated by sex of perpetrator and relationship of homicide victim to perpetrator; however, this is anticipated to change in the near future when a more comprehensive data breakdown will become available in relation to crime statistics in Ireland. 

b) Courts Services – Murder legal cases in Ireland are heard in the Central Criminal Court. A review of relevant murder trial proceedings and sentencing is possible, to determine cases of femicide through information on the Courts Service website. However, this data is not collated as femicide statistics.  

c) Coroners’ Courts - In all cases of homicide, an inquest is held by the relevant coroner. Data on number of Deaths Reported, Post Mortems and Inquests held are reported on an annual basis by each Coroners office in Ireland; these are collated into national statistics by the Coroner Service Implementation Team. Currently (September 2016), these statistics are not dis-aggregated by sex of the deceased, nor by relationship of the deceased to anyone involved in the homicide. As a result, data in relation to femicide is not available through national Coroners’ statistics.  

d) Maternal Death Enquiry - Data on all maternal deaths (deaths during pregnancy, within 42 days of the end of the pregnancy and up to one year post-partum) are collected and analysed by the Confidential Maternal Death Enquiry Ireland Office (MDE). Deaths as a result of femicide during this time period are included in this data analysis and would be classified as "Indirect deaths". Data from Ireland is collated with data from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and published as triennial reports by MBRRACE-UK. The 2015 MBRRACE report contained a specific chapter on "Learning from homicides and women who experienced domestic abuse". Where known, the perpetrator of the homicide is documented as a family member, stranger or (ex)partner in the report.  

e) Women's Aid Female Homicide Media Watch - Women’s Aid are an Irish domestic violence, non-governmental organisation (NGO), which has collated media reported cases of femicide in Ireland since 1996. They report on the number of women murders, the location of murder, sex of perpetrator and relationship of victim to perpetrator of the murder. This data source and subsequent figures are referenced in medical and social care guidelines developed by the Irish College of General Practitioners and the Health Service Executive.  

3 Definition  
The term “femicide” is rarely used in Ireland and does not appear in recent and relevant statutory national policy or guideline documents, nor in the Irish Statute Book (collection of Irish legislation). It is briefly referenced in the Women’s Health Council 2007, Violence Against Women and Health report. Instead, the terms: female homicide, intimate partner homicide or homicide/murder are used, as many of the statutory national policy and guideline documents and research adopt a gender neutral phrasing to domestic violence terminology. Holt defines femicide in her 2007 academic paper as “…the killing of a woman by her intimate partner or ex-partner.” (Irish Journal of Family Law 10(4)). 

 (by Siobàn O’Brien Green) 

In order to fight feminicide/femicide, various Latin American and European countries have adopted increasingly specific laws and legal instruments that penalize feminicide. The ratification of the Belém do Pará Convention1 in Latin America and the entry into force of the Istanbul Convention2  in Europe, demonstrate an increasingly stronger international commitment against this kind of violence. The establishment of the Bi-regional Dialogue on Gender by the European Union (EU) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), as well as the adoption of the Urgent Resolution on Feminicide in the European Union and Latin America3 by the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly (EuroLat) also express this commitment.    

However, legal norms, agreements, and international dialogues alone are not sufficient for the eradication of violence against women, nor its most extreme manifestation, feminicide.

Traditionally, States were only responsible for their own actions or those of their agents, but international public law has evolved and currently, the principle of due diligence makes the State responsible for the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of violence, regardless of who commits the crime. The duty of due diligence obliges States to enter the private sphere, where historically, they have not intervened, but where the majority of cases of violence against women occur. 

Therefore, it is the duty of the State to take all necessary measures to prevent human rights violations, such as feminicide, before they occur. This means, on the one hand, adopting pertinent laws and policies to prevent, investigate, prosecute, and punish those guilty of abuse, and on the other hand, successfully implement them. 

Patricia Jiménez, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung – European Union, Brussels

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