International Women’s Day – “We All Have A Responsibility To Change Attitudes”.

Ministers Naomi Long MLA and Helen McEntee TD have marked International Women’s Day by emphasising the importance of working together to challenge and change public attitudes on consent and rape myths.

Minister Naomi Long said, “Whilst sexual crime can affect anyone, we recognise that women and girls are disproportionally affected. We want to use the platform of International Women’s Day to highlight these issues, but also to encourage people across our society to have the conversations that could contribute to increasing understanding and knowledge of sexual consent and to tackle the rape myths that exist in society.

I am committed to continuing to work collaboratively to share learning and research, and to ensure we do everything that we can to raise awareness of these issues. But society also has a huge role to play.

Starting to educate our children and young people at an early age about healthy relationships, boundaries and appropriate behaviour is also key to changing cultural and societal attitudes to both women and sexual violence.”

Minister Helen McEntee said, “Minister Long and I share a deep commitment to ensuring that people, particularly women and vulnerable people, feel safe and are safe in every community across the island of Ireland. As part of our work to deliver this we are committed to ensuring there is zero tolerance for violence and abuse against women.

I was pleased to update Minister Long on the development of the third national strategy on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence which will be built on four pillars – Prevention, Protection, Prosecution and Policy Co-Ordination. A public consultation on the draft Strategy is currently open, following which I will bring it to Government.

An important focus of the prevention pillar of this new strategy will be looking at how we continue to work across Government and across society to change attitudes so that unacceptable behaviours are rejected in all settings and a positive shared understanding of the meaning and importance of consent is promoted. I look forward to continuing working closely with our colleagues in Northern Ireland to advance this shared aim.”

Ministers Long and McEntee meet regularly to discuss cross border co-operation on criminal justice matters. Work ongoing to tackle these issues includes the implementation of recommendations arising out of the review of Sir John Gillen and Supporting a Victim’s Journey.

The findings of a recent survey on rape myths carried out by the Northern Ireland Department of Justice received 2,400 responses. Over 87% of respondents said that rape myths were either very or somewhat prevalent in Northern Ireland. The results of the survey will inform work to raise awareness in this area, as recommended in the Gillen Review.


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