More than 90% of women who took part in new research believe Northern Ireland has a problem with men’s violence against women and girls, MLAs have been told.
The survey, presented by the Women’s Resource and Development Agency (WRDA), also showed that 83% of women who responded had been impacted by men’s violence, but less than a quarter had reported it to the police.
Stormont’s Executive Committee was hearing evidence on a strategy for tackling violence against women and girls (VAWG) in Northern Ireland.
Stormont ministers have committed to bring forward strategies to deal with VAWG and to stop domestic and sexual abuse.
Rachel Powell from the WRDA told committee members the agency had carried out research shortly after the murder of teacher Ashling Murphy in Ireland.
Their anonymised online survey was carried out over 25 days in January and February and 1,065 responses were received from women.
The results presented to the committee included:
– 92.1% think Northern Ireland has a problem with men’s VAWG
– 97.2% think Northern Ireland should have a strategy to tackle men’s VAWG
– 83% have been impacted by men’s VAWG, but only 21.4% reported it to police
– 77.4% of those who reported violence did not find it useful
– 92.3% think there are barriers to reporting men’s VAWG
– 95.2% think that reducing levels of VAWG requires focusing on changing men’s and boys’ behaviours
Ms Powell said: “For way too long we have focused on the behaviour of women, told women how to do things safely and how to not be attacked and how to not be assaulted.
“Women have said to us that needs to change, the focus needs to be on men and boys’ behaviour and actions.
“That is why we will be recommending that this should be called a strategy for tackling men’s violence against women and girls – just calling it violence against women and girls does not address who is doing it in the first place.
“One thing we would recommend to the committee is putting pressure for adequate resource to be allocated to this strategy.
“We can’t have a strategy which just sits on the shelf.”
Public consultations are taking place on two strategies, a domestic and sexual abuse strategy and a VAWG strategy.
Committee vice chairman John Stewart asked if it was confusing to have two public consultations at the same time.
Ms Powell said: “It is extremely confusing, even we are confused.
“We are working on this every single day and we are confused on which strategy is covering which issue. Can you imagine how much more inaccessible that is for people trying to work out which consultation to respond to.”