Violence Against Women

Many women experience different forms of violence just because they are women. These include domestic violence, sexual harassment, rape, sexual violence during conflict and harmful customary or traditional practices such as female genital mutilation, forced marriages and honour crimes.

It is estimated that in Europe, 20% to 25% of women have suffered physical violence at least once during their lives  and there are estimates that up to half a million women living in Europe have been subjected to genital mutilation.

Gender-based inequalities are also present in healthcare and long-term care as well as in health outcomes. Women and men are confronted with gender-specific health risks and diseases which need to be adequately addressed in medical research and health services.

Combating violence against women: a priority for the European Commission

Ahead of the International Women's Day 2014, the European Commission publishes a factsheet summarizing key concrete actions aimed at eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls in the European Union.

National Strategy on Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence 2010- 2014

Cosc, the National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence, is an executive office within the Department of Justice and Equality. It has the key responsibility to ensure the delivery of a well co-ordinated "whole of Government" response to domestic, sexual and gender-based violence principally through implementation of the national strategy.

The national strategy is the principal focus for the State’s work on ending violence against women. 

There are four high level goals in the strategy:

  • To promote a culture of prevention and recognition through increased   understanding of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence
  • To deliver an effective and consistent service to those affected 
  • To ensure greater effectiveness of policy and service planning
  • To ensure efficient and effective implementation of the strategy.

The national strategy was developed by Cosc in consultation with all relevant government departments and agencies and with the key civil society organisations in the sector. 

The primary focus of the National Strategy is on violence against women, principally domestic and sexual violence. Other forms of gender-based violence such as female genital mutilation, forced marriage, honour-based violence against women are not prevalent in Ireland but the strategy recognises that some women now living in Ireland may have been affected by such issues elsewhere and may need assistance.  The Criminal Justice (Female Genital Mutilation) Act 2012 was enacted to ensure protection from FGM.

Prevalence of domestic violence in Ireland

In 2011, there were 12,612 incidents of domestic violence disclosed to the Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline. There were 8,399 incidents of emotional abuse, 2,337 incidents of physical abuse and 1,399 incidents of financial abuse disclosed. In the same year, 477 incidents of sexual abuse were disclosed to Helpline support workers including 184 rapes. The Women's Aid National Helpline responded to 11,169 calls in 2011. (Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline and Support Services Statistics Report 2011)

In 2011, the Women's Aid One to One Support Service provided 455 one to one support visits, accommodated 142 court accompaniments and gave further telephone support to, and advocacy for, women on 1,003 occasions throughout the year. (Women's Aid National Freephone Helpline and Support Services Statistics Report 2011)

(Source: Women’s Aid website)

Fundamental Rights (FRA) Report on Violence Against Women 2014

 Physical, Sexual and Psychological Violence

·     According to the study fewer Irish women surveyed experienced sexual violence by a partner or a non-partner since the age of 15 (8% of Irish women surveyed compared to an EU average of 11% of women surveyed).

·     Fewer Irish women surveyed experienced a number of constituents of domestic abuse by a partner compared to the EU average and are among the lowest in Europe

o Psychological violence (31% compared to 43%).
o Controlling behaviour (23% compared to 35%).
o Economic violence (10% compared to 12%).
o Abusive behaviour (24% compared to 32%).

·     More Irish women contacted the police as a result of violence compared to the EU average

o by a partner (21% compared to 14%), or .
o by a non-partner (16% compared to 13%).

 Violence in Childhood

·     Fewer girls in Ireland experienced physical or sexual violence before the age of 15 compared with the EU average (26% compared with 33%).

·     The categories of perpetrators of physical violence against girls before the age of 15 in Ireland was not typical of the EU average with

o Fewer fathers, step or foster fathers (23% of cases of physical violence compared with 58%)
o More male teachers, doctors or priests (13% of cases compared with 6%) and
o More female acquaintances, friends or neighbours (17% of cases compared with 4%).

Opinions, Attitudes and Awareness

·     More women in Ireland perceived the frequency of violence against women to be "very common" when compared to the EU average (33% compare with 27%).

·     A greater number of women reported knowing a victim of domestic violence in their family or circle of friends (41% compared with 39%).

·     Fewer women reported being aware of laws and political initiatives to prevent domestic violence against women (42% compared with 49%).

Additional links

For details on the various Topics available in this section, please select from the links below

SAFE Ireland

Anti Human Trafficking Unit


Women's Aid