herald

Monday 25 September 2017

'Laws constructed for men, by men' - victim's supporters

Robert Maguire
Robert Maguire

Anti-domestic violence campaigners are backing a woman who called for her former partner to receive a longer prison sentence after falsely imprisoning and beating her in front of her children.

Robert Maguire (35), from Lucan, Dublin, beat his ex after he found she was in a new relationship.

He also falsely imprisoned her in the savage attack.

The victim has called for her abuser's two-year sentence, which was imposed last week, to be increased.

Davina James-Hanman, who was an advisor to Ken Livingstone when he was London Mayor, and Lisa Marmion, services manager for Women's Aid, Dundalk, have spoken out in support of the mother-of-six.

Ms James-Hanman, a Lisbon-based consultant on violence against women, told the Herald: "That sentence was not good enough. I happen to think women matter.

"This sentence sends out a message to men like this that they are right to do this, that the law doesn't take violence against women seriously and, if you go to court, then the chances are your sentence will be very light.

"The woman should matter on her own, but I would have thought the sentencing would reflect the fact there were children there.

"It also should reflect the amount of time the woman will take to recover and, two years down the road, she will be impacted.

"The legal system and assault laws have been constructed for men, by men and there's still a view, if it happens in a domestic context - that there was a relationship - that rather than that actually being an aggravating factor, it's a mitigating factor," Ms James-Hanman added.

"There is a lack of understanding on what domestic violence is - and there isn't a serial murderer or rapist who didn't start off practising violence at home.

Harsher

"Without doubt in this particular case, the woman will still be suffering long after he is released in two years, and that should have been taken into account with the sentencing."

Ms Marmion, who works with victims of domestic violence, said she was "not shocked at all in our judiciary."

She says the sentence is all too typical and does not give women confidence in the system.

"I wish I could say this was shocking, but it isn't to me. If this man was a stranger, my sense is it would be a harsher sentence," she said.

"It seems the fact a woman is an ex means she is not as valued and the legal system didn't take into account the fact the children had witnessed this level of violence against the mother."

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