herald

Monday 10 December 2018

Relationships 'should be aggravating factor' in sentencing - report

Women’s Aid director Margaret Martin with the 2017 report
Women’s Aid director Margaret Martin with the 2017 report

Men convicted of the manslaughter of a partner are likely to serve nearly three years less in prison than if they had not been intimately involved with a female victim, research has found.

Advocacy group Women's Aid has called for killing within an intimate relationship to be considered an aggravating factor as it launched its Femicide Watch 2017 report.

It showed that, on average, a man who killed an intimate or formerly intimate female partner received a 7.8-year jail term, while the average for killing a woman with no romantic connection was 10.6 years.

The group has also called for the State to set up domestic homicide reviews (DHRs) of cases to learn from them in order to prevent killings in the future.

Statistics published in the report showed 216 women had been killed since the Women's Aid Femicide project was established in 1996.

The report also showed 88pc of women killed in Ireland were killed by a man known them.

Protect

Women's Aid director Margaret Martin said it was time to act to protect women.

"Women should be safe in their homes and in their relationships," she said.

"We must recognise the strong connection between the killing of women and domestic violence."

Speaking at the launch of the report yesterday, Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said she believed an intimate relationship should be an aggravating factor in crime against women.

"There are times we see cases with sentences being handed down, not least of which for violent crimes of murder against women, and it leaves you absolutely bewildered," she said.

"It shouldn't be a mitigating factor that somebody was living in a loving environment, it should be an aggravating factor."

Ms Doherty also said that the Government had agreed to complete a new report, work on which will begin in January, on sexual abuse and violence in Ireland (SAVI).

The last SAVI report was published in 2002.

Maria Dempsey, whose daughter Alicia Brough (20) was murdered in Newcastle West, Co Limerick, in November 2010, also spoke out at the event.

"I want to advocate for counselling and sentencing," Ms Dempsey said.

"Sentencing isn't good enough."

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