Donegal TD Thomas Pringle has called for the root causes of gender-based violence to be addressed, after a new Government agency to tackle domestic violence was established.
Deputy Pringle gave his comments to the Daíl, in discussions around the Domestic, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Bill.
“Nothing happens in a vacuum. The significant increase in the number of victims of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence, particularly since Covid-19, is staggering and this has come following a rise of misogyny which is spreading and radicalising our young boys and men.
“We are facing a very serious crisis here. It feels like we, as a society, are going backwards. It seems like misogynistic views and language are used more frequently and are often deemed more acceptable today than 10 years ago. Sadly, I can think of multiple examples of gender-based violence and of misogynistic views gaining traction in the media in the past year alone. The rise of ‘alpha male’ mega-influencers and platforms facilitating male supremacist content and misogynistic views is very worrying.”
“There is no doubt that this is contributing significantly to the prevalence of domestic, sexual and gender-based violence in Ireland and across the globe. Disturbingly, 2022 was the deadliest year of the decade for women in Ireland. Despite the immense public outrage against gender-based violence following the murder of Ashling Murphy early last year, the death toll of women killed in violent circumstances in 2022 was the highest in 10 years.”
Deputy Pringle also said the legislation was long overdue, and also emphasised that the onus is on men to eradicate misogyny and domestic violence issues, after the Department had responded to some of Pringle’s concerns prior to the bill, saying that “It is not considered necessary or appropriate for the legislation to ‘single out’ men or boys in this manner.”
In response, Deputy Pringle said: “We cannot expect women to fix this issue. The change has to come from men.”
“The agency should have a particular focus on engaging men and boys in an attempt to combat the rise of misogyny, and in particular digital misogyny. There have been numerous reports that show online incel culture and digital misogyny are on the rise and so the agency should be tasked with developing a programme aimed at engaging men and boys with a specific focus on how patriarchal attitudes and stereotypes are being spread via social media. Daire Dempsey, education officer at Transgender Equality Network Ireland, in response to this, said the online and social media factor is very important and that for prevention work to be relevant and make an impact, it must reach young people where it’s happening.
“I also raised my concerns at pre-legislative scrutiny regarding the reported rise in sexual assault among children nationally. There was a 50% increase in victims under the age of 16 in Donegal last summer, after which Donegal Rape Crisis Centre was forced to reduce the age of those who can access their services to 12.”
The deputy said: “Due to the significant rise in cases of victims under the age of 16, I believe there should also be a focus on the provision of services to victims under the age of 18, under the functions of the agency.”